How to Pick Perfect Wines

Knowing a good wine and understanding the inner workings of the wine industry, Hawke’s Bay winemaker at Sacred Hill, Jack Cornes has provided detailed information about some of New Zealand’s best wines and how to pick perfect wines.

Traditionally, New Zealand Chardonnay was known to be big, buttery and oaky, but is currently doing well in the markets, coming back with a variety of styles that appeal to wider ranges of people. The queen of the grapes, Chardonnay is an excellent wine in New Zealand as it possesses an extensive range of flavour profiles.

When choosing the right Chardonnay, price is a good indicator of what to expect. The less expensive bottle is often fresh and fruity with high priced bottles offering more complexity, richness and toasty oak influences. The back label also holds clear style indicators, such as ‘bold and buttery’ or ‘fresh and fruity’; making it worthwhile taking a minute to read the tasting notes when trying to find the perfect bottle.

Cornes recommends considering what dish the wine will be alongside when selecting a bottle. “If it’s chicken, go for a Chardonnay, if it’s spaghetti Bolognese, try a Merlot. And finally, if you go for a bottle in the $15-20 price range, you’ll be rewarded because there are some great New Zealand wines out there at this price,” said Cornes.

When reading the label, this does not always reflect on the wine quality but may provide insight into where the wine is from. If the label is ‘funky’, it most likely fruity, playful or experimental wine; a more formal, classic label may indicate a traditional wine.

When 2018 is on a bottle of wine, Cornes recommends looking for consistency in varietals and notes Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough are impressive.

“They have that fresh style and are rich and delicious in the mouth – go for those. Cabernets from this year are also looking outstanding, so if you’re looking for a red next year, look for 2018 Cabernet blends and Merlot Cabernet blends. Try the Sacred Hill Orange Label Merlot Cabernet for a beautiful wine under $15.”