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Making it easier to choose a wine

Making it easier to choose a wine is very important at TheWinePlace.es. What do you need to know when choosing a wine? There is an abundance of wine choice for wine drinkers. Never before have there been so many tempting choices from so many countries and different grape varieties. It is a great time to explore and get away from the same old familiar wines.  When I do tastings or events it is good to be able to dispel misconceptions and confusion while at the same time opening new worlds of taste and experiences.  You don’t have to be a wine expert to feel confident and assured when ordering a wine in a restaurant, or buying wine online or asking for information.

As someone who has travelled extensively, tasting wines from all over the world for many years I want to share with you this knowledge and experience and hopefully you will get as much enjoyment and pleasure out of wine as I do.

This blog will help beginners to identify new wines and find wine styles that suit them best. It is not easy to remember names so let’s start with the Big 6 grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Shiraz.  These are the best known grape varieties and are widely planted throughout the world being used to make wines of different styles.  Make it fun to explore and try different wines made from the same grape variety from different countries.

Cabernet Sauvignon 

The most aristocratic red grape variety. At its best it makes wine that has ripe plums and blackcurrant, melted tannins, the scent of oak and the perfume of violets.  At its worst it can be thin, tannic and green and stalky.

Bordeaux is the home of Cabernet Sauvignon. In the Napa and Sonoma regions of northern California you can find some stunningly good Cabernet Sauvignons which can demand very high prices, US wine consumes love Cabernet.

Other countries to look for are Australia, notably the region of Coonawarra whose climate suits Cabernet Sauvignon, or from Paarl and Stellenbosch in South Africa and Chile, notable in the Maipo region, where they produce excellent quality Cabernet at accessible prices.


A really great variety that grows easily and makes wines that we all love to drink. Tropical fruit flavours, buttery, makes it the single most sought after varietal in the world from its home in Burgundy, France to Australia, California, South Africa, Chile to name but a few. There are many styles of Chardonnay depending on the climate, region and the influence of oak.  To begin with why not try a Chardonnay from Chile, such as De Gras Chardonnay.

Pinot Noir

Can be the most exasperating grape variety to ripen but it can make truly sublime wines.  In Burgundy and in the new world in Oregon in the US, Marlborough and Otago, New Zealand. I love Pinot Noir and the two wines, Yealands Estate Pinot Noir and Omero Cellars Pinot Noir, in the current selection are a great way to get into this variety.


Has suffered in popularity ever since the movie Sideways.  Don’t be put off by that, it is one of the classics.  It is a diverse grape that you are likely to find blended with another variety, such as Cabernet Sauvignon.  Outside of France it is very popular in Italy, particularly in the north, we had the Marchesi de Gresi Monferrato Rosso from the Piemonte in the previous selection.  Australia, New Zealand and Chile as well as California and Washington State in the USA also produce some superb Merlots.


The French grape from which the great wines of the northern Rhone, Croze Hermitage and Cote Rotie are made. For the majority of wine drinkers the first Syrah or Shiraz they will have tasted will have been from Australia, McLaren Vale being one of the best areas.  Also look out for other places such as California, South Africa where excellent wines from Shiraz are made. There are two contrasting styles of Shiraz available at TheWinePlace.es, Domain Gilles Robin Croze Hermitage from the Rhone and Tooma River Reserve Shiraz from Australia.

Here in Spain Marques de Griñon Syrah, is excellent also Jumilla in Murcia produces the best Shiraz in Spain, the dry, hot climate suits this variety.

Sauvignon Blanc

Has grown in popularity over the last couple of years to become the white wine of choice for many.  Rueda produces some really decent wines made from Sauvignon Blanc. The easily recognisable aromas and fresh style has become synonymous with wines from New Zealand made from this grape.   If you see a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand, check it out. Yealands Estate Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough is available at TheWinePlace.

More next time.

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Written by

I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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