It is becoming more and more fashionable to drink wine as the years go by. I hear many stories from my dad saying if he had ordered a glass of wine whilst out with his friends when he was at university, he’d have been laughed out of the pub for being ‘gay’. This is not the case any more; people, young and old, male and female, are drinking wine in increasing quantities, and the variety available in supermarkets or corner shops seems to increase every time I go in!
I define a ‘cheap’ wine as an affordable wine which, as a student, is round about 5. If I’m feeling stingy I’ll spend a bit less (but expect, and usually get, a sharp reduction in taste), or if I’m choosing a bottle I know and love I’ll spend a bit more. Going by this definition of cheap though, the choice is almost endless.
The way I usually choose, is taking a look at the wines that are reduced. All supermarkets have a variety of wine for half price all the time, and their selection is always changing. Luckily for me, the majority of reductions bring the price of the wines down to my level, and there are usually around five wines to choose from. Sometimes I will choose the bottle that was originally the most expensive, because it makes me feel posh, though I admit this is a bad way to do it. I make sure I buy a different bottle every time, to broaden my tastes, although in order for this to work properly you need to take notes on each wine, so you can re-find the tastes you like later.
Once I’ve narrowed my choice down to the five (lets say) bottles, I either choose my favourite grape variety (i.e. merlot), or chose a variety I have never tried, or have not drunk for a while.
Another great way to help you choose good wines, is to have a ‘wine tasting’ with a group of friends. Get a bottle of wine each, each of a different grape variety or from a different region, and drink a glass of each in turn, noting down what you can taste, and what you like about each one. I don’t remember what the wines tasted like from my first attempt at this, but I do remember that my favourite grape variety was merlot, followed closely by syrah, so I choose these two grapes when faced with a difficult choice.
Following these simple rules, I get the best value wine for my money, and a variety of tastes with which to educate myself. All that is left is to stay sober enough to remember what they taste like!