October is here, again! Already! It’s a wonderful time of year. Time to break out your best pumpkin carving skills and Halloween or Day of the Dead decorations, because the autumn winds are blowing away the last bits of El Nino humidity and making it the beautiful season it always is in San Diego!
It’s possible to find some scary good wines out there to augment your grown-up costume party, and it doesn’t have to be a terrifying experience. So if you’re looking around for something new, try one of these ideas on for size.
If you’re rushing to the supermarket, don’t just grab the same tired old chardonnay you’ve been getting for the past couple of years. In fact, don’t get chardonnay at all. Everybody loves chardonnay, so try something different. Plus, it’s fall. Go for a big bold California red! But not too big. Don’t get one of those oversized wine bottles – they’re not going to be great.
Buy local. San Diego’s wines are finally enjoying a moment of good press, but the fact is, they’ve been here a long, long time. Some of California’s oldest vintages, in fact, come from here. And a lot of them are really, really good. If you can’t find San Diego wine, grab a California wine.
But if you’re going the grocery store route, buy young and fresh wines, not older vintages. That’s because they’re likely just getting moved around on the shelves and stored properly, so the older a wine is, the more likely to be bad it is going to be. (There are exceptions to this rule, we know! But for last-minute party shopping, this is an excellent rule of thumb.)
You can also use a list like this one from Wine Folly, which shorthands what wines to look for from which regions. Mapping out what you like beforehand can be enormously helpful when you’re trying something new.
And if you’re in a real pickle, like you have ten minutes and need fifteen to get ready, we have to heartily recommend technology. Wine apps for your smartphone can take the most complex palate issues and break down what you’re looking for to just a few easy-to-find bottles, all while staying within your price range.
But, if you have the time, don’t ever forget the two best ways of all to keep your wine knowledge up-to-date and well-balanced: tasting as much wine as you can at any time, experimenting to find out what you like the most, taking note of where they’re from, and keeping track. That’s one. And if technology and personal experience fails, don’t forget about asking your friendly local sommeliers what they’re into! They can cut straight to the chase and help you track down just what you’re looking for.
So there you go. Finding a new wine on short notice doesn’t have to be a scary experience. That’s what the morning after the Halloween party is for.