You enter a local wine shop, or even visit your local grocery store, and are stunned by the variety of red wines available. How do you know which to choose? Is one brand really any better than another? The truth is it’s important to choose a quality red wine. The reason is that cheaply made wines can make you quite ill. That’s not to say that you should avoid $3 bottles of wine. Even expensive wines can be poorly made. How do you find your way through the poor quality wines to find a good quality brand? Here are just a few tips to help ease the process.

Consider the Age

Age can tell you a lot about the quality of wine. When discussing wine you will hear the terms: ordinary, fine and collection. Ordinary wines are not aged. This means they lack flavor and should be avoided. Fine wines are what the average person buys and have aged for up to two years. They are also made with some of the finest grapes available. Collection wines are the finest of the fine. Collection wines have aged for at least five years and can be quite expensive, but extremely high quality.

Choose Wine Based on the Occasion

When choosing your red wine you should consider the event. If you want a wine that can be served during a romantic dinner, you more than likely want to choose an alcohol-free wine. Alcohol-free wines do contain alcohol, but only the natural alcohol that occurred during the aging process. An ideal alcohol content for these varieties is 9-14%. One the other hand, if you’ll be serving wine at a party, you may want to opt for a heady wine that contains additional alcohol of up to 14-20%.

Look at the Sugar Content

You should of course also consider the food you’ll be pairing with the wine. If you’re serving the wine with dinner, you may want a wine that contains less than 1% sugar. On the other hand, if you’re serving a chocolate dessert, you would want to pair the dessert with a dessert wine that contains 3-8% sugar. This becomes particularly important if you’re already worried about the number of calories in a glass of wine.

Pair the Wine with the Food

Last, but not least, pair the wine with the food. There are several varieties of wine and each pairs with different foods. For example, you might serve a Port or Merlot with a variety of salty cheeses. Consult your local wine merchant for the best varieties to pair with your menu.

Don’t be fooled by commercials. Every company wants you to believe that their wine is the best quality. The simple truth, though, is that some wines are higher quality than others. The good news is that it’s not hard to find a quality red wine to pair with your meal. Still not sure what to do? Ask someone at your local wine store for help. If they can’t? Go elsewhere.

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