We’ve all done it…chosen a wine based on which one has the nicest looking logo, the one with the exotic name or mid-range price! More often than not, we wander aimlessly through the wine aisle without that much of an understanding on how to read the label, how to pair our wine or how to differ a good wine from a mediocre one. Well lucky for us, we interviewed a wine specialist, Andrea Garcia! When she reached out as a Ease To Wellness reader, we couldn't help but ask to feature her and with her help, become a bit more wine savvy! She delivered and broke down the wine jargon for us (finally)! So, as a result, we are sharing her story and advice!
Learn to navigate the wine aisle like a pro below!
1. What are the most important things to look for in a bottle?
There are so many wine options/varieties: white wines, red wines, rosé wines, sparkling wines, the list goes on. Take some time to taste different ones to define your taste. Explore different styles based on the wine grape variety being used, and after you have landed on your preferred one, know that these vary in themselves in terms of alcohol per volume, texture, and vintage. Among the classic wine grape varieties you find Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc ,and Albariño.
Define the region you like the most and know this makes an immense difference in the taste and quality of the wine! The taste varies based on the region it comes from. A chardonnay (the most popular wine in the US) from California tastes completely different than a Chardonnay from France. You may find that two wines using the same grape variety taste completely different because of the wine making strategies used and even the land where the grape grows. A term used to describe this difference in style: Old World versus New World.
When buying a bottle, take into consideration who you are sharing the bottle with, the food you’re pairing it with, time of day, and temperature. If it’s a lunch outdoors on a hot afternoon, a white wine or rosé would be the best option. However, if it were a family dinner in a cool atmosphere indoors, a red wine would go best.
Don’t make the decision based on the price. The most expensive bottle doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best wine nor is the cheapest the worst option. After considering all the factors discussed above, choose the price that falls within your budget the best.
2. What is your advice for pairing food and wine?
Pairing food and wine should not be complicated. But you must have at least a basic understanding of the characteristics of both wine and food. Some basic guidelines for a harmonious match include:
-Think locally: if you are serving a regional dish, pair it with a wine from that region. They were made to go together.
-Special occasion dishes with special-occasion wines; everyday dishes with everyday wines.
-Heavy dishes with heavy wines; robust dishes with robust wines.
-Light dishes with light wines, delicate dishes with delicate wines.
3. Any examples of wine pairings?
Pinot noir: the most food friendly red wine. It goes well with fish options such as tuna, salmon, and swordfish. It could be grilled or seared in a white-hot pan.
Chardonnay: the most savory, full bodied chardonnays are best matched with dishes that enhance chardonnays' roundness. Some of the classic pairings for this wine include shellfish, especially lobster or scallops prepared in a rich sauce such as drawn butter or a modification of a cream or butter sauce. With leaner chardonnays, with higher acidity, (for example, those from Chablis in Burgundy) it is best to pair them with something lighter, such as oysters.
4. Tell us a bit about the difference between a low and high priced wine bottle?
When pricing a wine, the vineyard's location is very important. Vineyards are equivalent to real estate and depending on the location, the more expensive it is. The price of a bottle of wine reflects a few things: the costs of production, utilities, labor, marketing, exportation fees, and methods used for winemaking (e.g., kind of barrel, type of maceration, fermentation). In addition, if the wine isn’t sold directly to a consumer, then distributors, wholesalers and retailers all look to make a profit on every bottle sold. However, it’s important to note that a wine’s price is not necessarily equivalent to the quality of the wine. My advice is to look at the wine producer. A great wine producer will make great wines for a good value.
6. Should we choose a wine with Cork or Screw Cap?
Cork vs. screw cap is certainly a hot topic in the world of wine. For wine lovers, the cork tends to carry a long tradition of nostalgic lore. In my opinion, the cork is part of the whole wine tasting experience. They both have their pros and cons. A screw cap works well for wines intended to be opened and shared “on the spot”. You can reuse and conserve its taste up to a week, preventing oxygenation! So for those nights where you’re in the mood for a glass while home alone, a screw cap works best! I always prefer cork though, especially for bottles of wine you want to save for a special occasion and wines meant to age gracefully.
7. What’s your take on Rose champagne and rosé wines?
Rosé champagnes have had a remarkable popularity over the last decade. I think the industry is a bit cynical about it though. They will rush anything in the summer and call it rosé. It doesn’t have to be very good to sell! Although I prefer brut champagne, I enjoy a good rosé champagne in the summertime. It's an outdoor wine, light, and far from serious. There are great rosés you could drink all year round. I suggest a lobster spaghetti with red tomatoes because it’s a dish you can serve at room temperature and it pairs greatly with rose champagne.
Rosé wines are wonderful. But not all rosés are created equal! I personally like Tavel Rosé from the Côtes-du-Rhône. It has more body and structure than other styles. But you have many options. Rosé from Provence is always great. You can’t go wrong with this region when it comes to rosé!
In addition to getting a quick Wine Breakdown and guidance for when we are wine shopping, we also wanted to learn a bit more about Andrea's journey and how she became involved in the wine industry to begin with! To get to know a bit more about her, scroll below!
1. Tell us a bit about how you became involved in the wine industry?
I’ve always liked wine. My family is in the wine industry so it’s always been a part of me. However, it wasn’t until I decided to publish a book on the history of V Suarez & Co. Inc. that I truly discovered my passion for the industry. While I was writing the book, I started taking evening classes with Marcos Mercado at El Hórreo de V. Suárez and something that started out as a hobby soon became my career. In February 2017, I began an intensive program with Rosana Miranda, Director of CAFA Puerto Rico, L'École Internationale en Vins et Spiritueux., and obtained my degree in “Formation International de Conseiller en Sommellerie”. I plan to continue developing my career as a wine specialist. There’s always something new to learn and that is what continues to drive me.
2. You are a wine consultant, specialist and author (I'm sure many of our readers will consider a career change once they realize this is even an option!), tell us a little bit about what you do.
As a wine consultant, I can help my client start a wine collection - develop a wine collecting strategy based on the client’s needs. I also provide assistance for wine pairing in restaurants and special events. I give my client selections of the best wines available so that he/she has an unmatched wine quality and collection.
Understanding market trends and their international implications is also part of being a wine consultant. The market is becoming more diverse and global: Bordeaux, for example, has declined in popularity, with Burgundy, champagne and even Riesling grabbing more market share. In addition to this, I write for Galenus, a medical magazine based in Puerto Rico, where I share wine advice with professionals in the health industry!
3. You recently published your first book, tell us a bit about it!
It's titled “Vicente Suárez Alvárez: El Legado" and it was the experience of a lifetime, both personally and professionally. It’s the story of my great grandfather, Vicente Suarez, who founded the family business: V Suarez & Co. Inc. in 1943. Nowadays, it’s a business based in Puerto Rico dedicated to the distribution and sales of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. My great-grandfather came to PR from Asturias, Spain at the age of 14 with only $50 in his pocket. The book is about his remarkable life journey.
4. What lifestyle advice can you provide for our readers interested in staying healthy while also enjoying a few (or more) glasses of wine?
I think that, like with everything in life, it's about keeping our balance. A glass of wine a day (preferably red) has many health benefits but there are many other great things you can get from it, such as the actual experience of enjoying wine. Wine invites conversation, extends what Hispanics call “sobre-mesa” (the conversation held between friends and family after a meal) and lets us appreciate the cultural aspects involved in wine making. Like Michael Broadbent said, "Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life's most civilized pleasures". I truly believe this aspect of wine tasting can help us stay connected to others, something very much needed in modern society!
We'd like to thank Andrea Garcia for her collaboration with Ease To Wellness for this piece! If you live in Puerto Rico and wish to work with or get in contact with Andrea, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Header Photo source: Styling my Everyday
By: Editor, Dr. Francesca Vazquez