Taste or Reputation – Which Wine Should I Buy?

jolly good mix

It’s a question almost as old as time: should I trust in my own taste or that of others?

A question, when it comes to our choice of wine, that becomes even more difficult to answer as we stand before the packed shelves in a supermarket, off-licence, or wine-merchant.

Especially if we are catering to others who enjoy wine as much as ourselves – and your writer in particular.

At Viva Vino we have our own take on this tricky and often time-consuming subject, and it’s a take we think goes a long way towards simplifying the whole problem.

I’ll get to it shortly.

Social or Personal – How Do I Choose?

We’re all aware these days that the wide choice available to us is simply amazing.

But with that choice comes a whole host of confusing decisions we need to make if we want to be either a good host considerate of the tastes of our guests, or simply satisfy our own requirements when relaxing at home with a wine likely to hit the spot.

Hence the question acting as the title for this blog entry:

“Do we go with our own tastes or those of another with real knowledge and passion for his/her subject?”

Given it takes a number of years for a wine-merchant or shipper to train and educate an employee’s taste-buds in order for them to make informed choices when it comes to adding to their catalogue – probably a lot longer when it comes to even the most gifted and passionate amateur – wouldn’t it make more sense for us to simply find a critic whose tastes seem to reflect ours?

So far so sensible.


Should we just make sure we taste any wine we are thinking of purchasing before we buy and trust in our own taste?

A different route that makes as much sense in its own way.

None of the above options, it has to be said though, is foolproof.

After all, because the tastes of a critic have matched ours on a few occasions, there is absolutely no guarantee they’ll continue to do so.

And even less guarantee that what we and our critic of choice enjoys will be the same as the guests whose tastes – as a good and considerate host – we want to indulge.

Not to go too far over the top, but it’s a minefield – even if it is liquid and unthreatening to our well-being.

Now though, we are being told that social and personal consumption of wine is at an all-time high in the UK, see report here.

Popularity adding yet another strand of doubt and indecision to the purchasing process.

Especially if we’re catering to the needs of guests at dinner-party, barbeque, family gathering, or any other number of similar social occasions.

So, when it gets boiled down, what we’re talking about is a question of balance.

Which is all very well; but how do we answer that question most effectively?

As mentioned above, the tastes of no two people – critic or individual – are identical, and matching a wine to the guest and the occasion can seem at times like an infuriating puzzle.

Not to flog the screamingly obvious, but satisfying the tastes of one guest can just as easily mean you are offending those belonging to another.

Catering to a Broad Range of Tastes

So, the friends and relatives are on their way for one of those evening or weekend gatherings we hope will create lasting memories – as much for the wine and food as for the great company and sparkling conversation.

Gatherings that are, after all, one of the joys of life.

Those get-togethers that, if we’re honest, supply our lives with the lion’s share of its flavour.

So how do we make certain our wines are going to compliment that company to make the occasion memorable?

The truth?

We can’t.

A least not with one-hundred-per cent accuracy.

That said, though, we can come close – even if we do have a whole host of different tastes to satisfy when it comes to the wines we decide to serve.

For instance:

Graham loves his Bordeaux; Victoria her Montepulciano.

Sam has a thirst for a chilled to the bone Chenin Blanc; while Kristina purrs when offered an equally chilled Pinot Grigio.

Knowledge of the tastes belonging to either family, friends or acquaintances is, of course, a real help, but the above only takes us so far.

And the puzzle doesn’t end there.

Ooooh, no!

If only.

Popularity or Critical Approval?

With popularity comes self-knowledge and, of course, familiarity on the part of the drinker.

But it makes the host’s job even harder…

“Would Martin prefer that hearty Argentinian Malbec, the one I enjoyed so much last month?”

“Or would he rather the softer French Malbec of the Languedoc the experts are raving about?…

“Will the majority of the guests be drinking red or white?…

“And what about those with a taste for an ice crisp Rose if our gathering takes place on a hot weekend afternoon?”

Without sending our guests a questionnaire on the subject before their arrival – and to hell with spontaneity – the need we have is to be able to make at least a decent guess in advance about what they might like when it comes to the grape on offer.

But it’s not only that…

Five of your guests prefer Red – this much you know, and are even ahead of the game when it comes to the wine-region of their preference.

But is that enough?

Which type of red from their region of choice would they prefer, you ask yourself?

A more mellow blend?

Something heavier and more full-bodied?

Or something that sits, accessible and easy to drink, between the two?

Similar preferences existing within the range of White’s and Rose’s on offer also.

It’s a choice and a decision most of us need to make at certain times.

Not life-threatening, of course.

How could it be?

After all, this is the sharing of pleasure with people we care for we’re talking about here, not hand-to-hand combat with The Rock.

But important just the same if we want to make memories that last.

The same memories are likely to provide a warm glow on those occasions when we sit back (with a glass of our favourite vino to hand?) and take advantage of some quiet time to reminisce.

And that’s why we here at Viva Vino came up with what we think is the ideal way to bridge the gap.

The gap between a total reliance on personal taste…

Or taking the other route reliant on the expert view.

But please don’t take us wrong.

We know there is no such thing as a catch-all and it is very rare to be able to satisfy everybody at any one-time.

That, as much as less realistic attempts to drive sales might insist otherwise, is simply not possible; never has been possible, and never will be possible.

Having said that, though, I and my colleagues do believe there is an approach that can go as far as it is possible towards hitting that entertaining spot as full-on as it can be hit…

The “Jolly Good Box” Range of Mixed Wines

The Classic Mix, in the Jolly Good Box, features 12 superb and distinctly individual wines that punch way above their weight.

Both in price and flavour.

The Jolly Good Classic Mix

Hand-selected – though that should probably be, “Tongue” – these classics originate from both old and new world producers and are put together with a range of grape varieties, vineyards and countries, from all over the world that we’ve found go down well with all lovers of a Jolly Good Swallow.

Be they in the company of others, or having a quiet sip on their own.

Old World or New, our boxes are geared for you to find joys at every turn – some with which you might be familiar, and others we feel sure will prove an unexpected delight.

From Pinot Noir’s to Medoc’s; and Sauvignon Blanc’s to White Rioja’s; Viva Vino’s “Jolly Good Box” collection covers a selection of classics, put together to take the indecision out of tricky decision-making when entertaining and likely to either re-introduce you to old vine-based friends, or give you a pleasing and fresh connection to new ones.

Whether it’s six bottles or twelve, – Red boxes, White boxes or mixed – everything’s in place to make your choice-making as hassle-free as possible.

Simply go to the Jolly Good Wine Boxes to discover more.

Chris Vino


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