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How to pick a Pinot Noir?

How to pick a Pinot Noir?

How to pick a Pinot Noir?

Choosing a great wine can sometimes be a challenging exercise, especially when it comes to Pinot Noir. So, how do you make a better informed decision on your next purchase?

New Zealand has been getting more and more press for its Pinot Noirs. Most people think Sauvignon Blanc when they think of New Zealand, but lately there have been some reasonably priced and critically accepted Pinot Noirs coming out of the country. “Pinot Noir is currently at the top of the list – for both dry table wine and a growing number of bottle fermented sparkling wines,” says Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas.

But with so many Pinot Noirs on the market, how does one go about picking a decent bottle? Douglas says it all comes down to personal taste. The question of what separates the good from the bad is a complicated question, especially for newbies. It all comes back to a question of style. He does however offer the following caution when discovering new wines, “if a wine smells or tastes like any of the following its probably not good: Madeira smell – burnt or maderized (poorly stored, exposed to heat), Vinegar, Ethel acetate (Nail polish remover), rotten apple, Uhu Glue, burnt match stick, old Library book – dusty and stale smell.”

With a wealth of knowledge when it comes to wines, Douglas is well placed to offer suggestions on his favourite wines. One of which is the Misha’s Vineyard ‘Cantata’ Pinot Noir 2015. “Refined and complex with flavours of ripe dark cherry, plum and spice. Tense, youthful and focused on the palate with layers of berry fruit and wood flavours with fine tannins. A great food wine or on its own,” he says.

In general, when browsing the hundreds of options available on the shelves, keep in mind the following three tips when making your decision:

  1. Read the label: Turn the bottle around and take a look at the tasting note, this will help guide your decision in terms of your own palate.
  2. Choose easy pairings: Often magic happens when wine is paired with good food. There are generally two schools of thoughts when it comes to wine and food pairings: complementary and contrasting. Neither is wrong. Keep in mind that red meats and cheeses pair well with full-bodied reds.
  3. Consult a list: Douglas says that if in doubt, check out rated wine lists, for instance the Fine Wines of New Zealand. “I am a judge for this list, and all of the wines in the list are on my personal list as well.”
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