UNT System HR is bringing UNT World experts directly to you in this periodic and always timely installation called "Ask An Expert." So, let's ask...
EXPERT: Dr. Han Wen, Assistant Professor, UNT Hospitality Management
EXPERTISE: Shopping for, serving and gifting wine
December is the month for giving, and what better way to express our appreciation for family, friends and colleagues than by giving an exemplary bottle of wine? But, if you're anything like us, you can stand in front of the wine aisle for an hour and accomplish nothing more than scratching our head. What variety should I buy? What year? Does that one cost too little or too much? So many questions, so little time.
Have no fear, Dr. Wen is here.
Q: When giving a bottle of wine as a gift, what are ways to make it feel more personal?
Dr. Wen: If you have toured a winery and enjoyed its wine, buy a bottle from that winery and you can pass along a meaningful story about your trip, how you happened upon the winery or about how the grapes there grow and how the winemaker produces the wines. Another personalized idea is to select a wine with vintages that match the birth year of the person who's accepting the gift. Also, some websites allow you to personalize the wine bottle with a picture or customized text.
Q: While perusing the wine aisle desperately trying to decide on the right bottle, is there a way to research bottles of wine right there in the store?
Dr. Wen: Yes. One of the great methods to research the wine at the store is to download apps on your phone, such as Delectable or Vivino. Open the app and you can scan the label and find out the rating of the wine, a tasting profile based on thousands of user reviews, suggestions of foods that go well with the wine and other information. To do research before you go to the store, a website such as Winefolly.com is an excellent resource.
Q: OK, so we've heard that a bottle with a screw cap is inferior to one with a traditional cork. Is that true?
Dr. Wen: From experts' perspective, there's actually not much difference between those two -- just different types of closure. Traditionally, wine makers love to use cork as the closure. For modern wine-making, a lot of producers have started to really like the screw caps. Screw caps will prevent the problem of cork taint.
Q: Price is always sticking point for us. Some wine can be out of our price range, but we also don't want to spend too little. What is a price point that lets us know we are giving a bottle of wine we can be proud of?
Dr. Wen: Depending on the occasion, a different type of wine with different price ranges may be selected. For example, if you would like to select a bottle of Champagne (i.e., the Sparkling wine made in Champagne, France), you’re expecting to pay $30 or more. Likewise, a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley costs $20 or more. However, a Prosecco or Moscato d’Asti only costs between $10-$15, but most consumers love them, especially Millennials. I wouldn't really recommend some cheaper wines advertised below $5.
Q: Speaking of different regions of the world, is there a particular region that is currently particularly trendy?
Dr. Wen: As there are a large number of wine regions throughout the world, it is hard to say which wine region is getting particularly trendy. The most recent trend in the wine consumer market is that consumers are more and more interested in learning the “stories behind the bottle.” For example, consumers are concerned about the wine-making processes and value sustainable wine-making practices. If you have already tried many Old World wines (i.e., wines made in European countries which has a long history of wine-making), I would recommend you to experience some New World wines (i.e., wines made in non-European countries). These New World wines give the Old World vines completely new expressions. Examples of these excellent New World wines include Shiraz from Australia, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir from New Zealand, Pinotage or Chenin Blanc from South Africa, Malbec from Argentina, Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley (U.S.), and Pinot Noir from Oregon (U.S.).