How to Choose the Right Wine for Your Festive Celebrations

How to Choose Wine

If you’re hosting friends and family this holiday season, and have already started to panic about your wine selection, you’ve come to the right place! Because I recently sat down with Charlotte Calvet, the woman behind the super-stylish Garmence Wine Studio, who kindly shared her tips for choosing a crowd-pleasing wine.

So if you’re currently feeling intimidated or overwhelmed, and aren’t sure which wines to pair with the food you’re cooking this Christmas, read on for Charlotte’s expert advice. I learnt so much from her, and will now feel far more confident when ordering a bottle of wine…

HOW TO CHOOSE WINE

Knowing next-to-nothing about wine, I was always believed the snobbish myths that wines from certain countries are better than others. But, according to Charlotte, that couldn’t be further from the truth. “All wine countries have regions that are well known for producing amazing wines. And they also all have regions that are not so good,” she explained.

So picking up a bottle of French wine doesn’t guarantee a great taste. Which makes it even harder to know where to start.

“If you’re not a wine expert I would suggest sticking to something you’re already familiar with,” Charlotte says. “For instance, if you know that a certain wine house in a particular region does wine that you like then experiment with their offering. Or trust your local wine shop to curate a personalised selection for you”

Charlotte Calvet Garmence Wine

“The easiest option is to chose a wine that pairs well with most foods. A merlot, for example, is not too tannic or acidic, so it complements most savoury dishes.”

HOW TO PAIR WINE WITH FOOD

“The easiest option is to chose a wine that pairs well with most foods,” Charlotte explains. “A merlot, for example, is not too tannic or acidic, so it complements most savoury dishes.”

“Sparkling wines are actually really good to have with fatty foods. So, if you’re hosting a cocktail party and serving lots of sausages and savoury pastries, sparkling wine will work really well because it cuts through the fat.”

Then anything bold, like a Saint-Émilion, should be paired with bolder flavours so the wine doesn’t overpower the food – or visa versa. Our Saint-Émilion works really well with spicy food.”

And dessert wine is actually not meant to be served with dessert. It’s just called dessert wine by the Brits, and actually tastes best before a meal. Prosecco and champagne work really well with anything starch-y, like cake, and most white wines also pair nicely with dessert.”

“Reds should mostly be avoided during dessert, however. They have too many tannins, so the sugar from the pudding will make the wine taste super-harsh. Instead, save reds for the cheese board afterwards!”

Garme CHIANTI CLASSICOnce
How to Choose Wine with Garmence

HOW TO STORE WINE

“At Garmence we actually deliver wine in boxes that contain a wine rack, because the most important thing is to keep bottles laying flat on their side. The reason for that is it keeps the cork moist,” Charlotte explains. “If the cork starts to dry out it will let air in, which over time will cause oxidation. If a bottle has been standing for two days that’s fine, but if it’s been more than a week it could start to ruin the wine. So the goal is to always keep it laying flat.”

“And it’s also important to avoid any extreme temperatures. A lot of people make a big mistake by keeping wine next to their oven. And that’s bad because you need to avoid both high and low temperatures. So always store wine away from the stove, radiators, direct light and drafts.”

HOW TO TELL IF A BOTTLE IS CORKED

“You can tell when a bottle is corked because the wine smells a bit like mushrooms or gym bag. Most people wouldn’t dare to send wine back when they’re in a restaurant, and instead they’ll think, ‘Maybe that’s just the taste of the wine. Maybe it’s because I don’t know anything about wine.’ But no. If you feel that it tastes bad then it’s not you, and it’s not the wine. It means it’s faulty.”

Will you be hosting friends and family this holiday season? And has Charlotte’s advice helped you feel more confident about selecting the perfect wine? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts…

~ This post was created in collaboration with Garmence. Thank you for continuing to support the sponsors that make Coco’s Tea Party possible. Garmence wines start at £7.50 per bottle, and they offer same-day delivery if you order online before 3pm. ~ 

  • I am so bad with wine. If working for a year in a French restaurant didn’t teach me anything. I guess all hope is lost 😉

  • Alex Dean

    My husband and I are having some of his coworkers over for dinner this weekend. They are big wine drinkers, and I would like to have some there for them but I am not a wine expert. So I am in desperate need of advice on how to choose the right one. It’s good to know that since I am serving steak that it might be a good idea to serve more of a sparkling wine. This is great information to help with the dinner party!