3 Tips on How to Navigate a Wine List Like a Pro

When you’re a first time wine drinker, a wine list can be intimidating. With so many different grapes, different classifications, and so much more finding a wine you love can seem so far away. Or if you’re in the store and don’t have time for a tasting, what does everything on that bottle really mean? Today, learn how you can navigate finding a lovable bottle of wine like a pro! 

Find a sweet wine you’ll love:

Sweet wine drinkers make up typically 38% percent of the American population and 45% being semi-sweet drinkers. At Deer Creek Winery, based out of rural Pennsylvania, we know our target audience loves a good bottle of sweet wine! Wines get their sweetness by adding different levels of sugar or other sweeteners like honey. 

Often we use sweeter grapes and other fruit varieties that naturally make your wine sweeter. Some of these natural varieties that you can look for on a menu or on a label that we use here at Deer Creek include:

  • Fredonia grapes
  • Niagara grapes
  • Concord grapes
  • Dragonfruit
  • Catawba grapes
  • Moscato grapes
  • Raspberries 
  • Passionfruit
  • Delaware Grapes
  • Pear

Finding a dry wine:

As you can guess, dry wines are just like sweet wines but have a lower added sugar content or none whatsoever. There’s also plenty of naturally drier grape and fruit varieties that you might just find on your next trip to your favorite winery! 

  • Seyval Grapes
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Chambourcin Grapes
  • Steuben Grapes
  • Riesling Grapes
  • Merlot
  • Blackberry
  • Cranberry

As you add a sweeter varietal with a drier, it often creates a great balance of a medium sweet wine, for someone who may fall in the middle of being a sweet or a dry wine drinker. 

When all else fails, go back to the basics!

Like we said earlier, a wine list can be intimidating. It doesn’t have to be if you go off what you already know you like! Many wineries including Deer Creek are moving more to vinotyping. Vinotying doesn’t focus on food pairings, but rather what you know already about your tastebuds. There are four classifications of vinotypes, but today we’re only going to focus on two. 

The first is Sweet wines. There’s some ways to tell you would prefer a sweet wine that may seem a little bit more obvious. For example, if someone:

  • Loves sweet flavored coffee drinks
  • Hates artificial sweeteners
  • Loves salt, LOTS of it

Then there are a few that maybe you had never considered that determined what kind of beverages you liked:

  • Hates loud restaurants
  • Heat sensitive, very picky about the thermostat

Now if we turn to the complete opposite side of the scale and focus on dry or Tolerant wines. Like above there’s some that will make complete sense to you if you’re a dry wine drinker and a few that may surprise you! Check them out here:

  • Likes black, unflavored coffee
  • Doesn’t mind artificial sweeteners
  • Finds most snacks too salty
  • Decisive, linear thinker
  • Loves intensity. The bigger the better!
  • Occasionally likes straight scotch or cognac

Now remember there are two other vinotypes we didn’t even talk about, and you could fall somewhere in the middle of a Sweet and Tolerant (dry) wine drinker. If you ever get intimidated by a wine list, just go back to the basics! 

Drinking wine doesn’t have to be scary! After learning what keywords to look for on a wine menu and how to find wines you’ll like based on what you already understand about your tastebuds, you’ll be navigating every wine list like a pro in no time!