Useful Wines: How to Order Wine that you Actually Want

When picking a wine, there is an enormity of options.  It can be frustrating to feel like you are taking repeated, blind stabs at what you hope will be an enjoyable bottle.  To make matters worse, the descriptions on labels or menus -- often written by wine marketers -- are jam-packed with jargon.  Words such as “seductive,” “perfumed,” or “sophisticated” are relatively meaningless when trying to find a similar wine.  One of the reasons I became interested in wine was to be able to identify wines that I enjoyed so that I could have them, and others like them, on a more consistent basis.  So, of all of the wine-related vocabulary, what words are actually useful in finding wines that agree with your palate?

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Matters of Trust: The Origin of France's AOC System

Wine, as a product, has long engendered trust issues on the part of its devotees.  In addition to being relatively expensive, it can be difficult to distinguish between different types of wine.  Most problematically, there is little recourse for the consumers who realize they have been cheated.  Thus, since its discovery, there has been real tension between producers who establish their reputation by making the best possible wines and those who seek to gain an unearned windfall off of other’s reputations.

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Explaining Complexity in Wine

To smell and note the presence of “cherry, coffee, leather, and hay” is all well and good, but this is like listing the type or instruments played or the number of G chords in a song.  Much like the symphony, a great wine is both immersive and indescribable.  Each time you sniff, you may smell something different, but it leads back to an appreciation of the whole.

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