International Wine 101
It can be daunting when facing an unfamiliar category of wines. After all, we all know and love Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Central Otago Pinot Noir, Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay but what about that Nerello Mascalese, or the Ribera del Duero or the Argentinian Torrentes?
The world of wine is big and varied so we have put together a few tips to help better understand the global wine scene.
There are around 1,500 grape varieties in commercial production. Be prepared to encounter the unfamiliar and even the most obscure and tongue-twisting varieties, but don’t be fazed, these can still be broken down into its style - red/white, fruity/vinous, dry/medium/sweet, bold/ elegant, light/medium/fuller bodied.
Generally speaking, European wines are more savoury and restrained and less fruity than their ‘New World’ counterparts. This is partly down to an entwined food/wine culture that ensures wines are made to be paired and enjoyed with food rather than in isolation.
New World Wine
The ‘New World’, which comprises North and South America, South Africa and Australia, operates on the more familiar New Zealand approach of labelling wines by variety, or occasionally brand name and generally you can expect wines to be made in a more fruit-focused manner.
How to read a label
European wine labels are different to New World and New Zealand wines and are named for the region or even vineyard from which they come, not the grape variety. However, there are increasing numbers of European wines now labelled with the varietal alongside a broader regional designation, which can help navigate this.