If you are dead set on choosing the wine but are feeling a little out of your depth, here is a bluffer’s guide by Yurick to which regions and countries are best for what.
Go for German Riesling (Mosel being my favourite) if you are looking for something with a little residual sugar or even sweeter. Go-to producers would be Schloss Lieser, JJ Prum, Egon Muller amongst many others. If you like the lightness of Riesling but in the dry style, you must go to Australia, with the best regions being the Clare and Eden Valleys.
Alsace is the go-to for full-bodied Riesling that are complex and dry to off-dry.
The safe choice for those who like semi-aromatic, lively, dry light and crisp whites. The best bets are Loire Valley in France if you like a bit of “greenness” in your wine (e.g. grassy and herbal notes), but also a great feel of minerality. Sancerre and Pouilly Fume are at the top of the pyramid in terms of quality and prices but my cheaper version of this delicious grape would come from Quincy, the oldest white wine appellation of France.
It grows widely but it is really difficult to find better expressions than in Burgundy, France.
Off the beaten track – Oregon, Sonoma Coast, Russian River, Santa Rita in the US, Central Otago in New Zealand and there are some extremely good value Pinot Noirs coming out of South Africa, some serious wines made in Chile nowadays and those made in the South Argentina part of Patagonia are also terrific.
Go for the birthplace of Chardonnay! Burgundies are always the most enticing, complex, well balanced, pleasant and long lived of the family. Meursault, Chassagne and Puligny Montrachet are where the best are probably produced (and their Grand Crus).
Go to South America for fruitier, richer styles. In the mid of the range I would suggest South Africa.
Dry crisp whites
Those wines are created worldwide and to find good ones isn’t that hard. I would drink Gruner Veltliners from Austria, especially Steinfeder and Federspiel. The Provencal in France are well made from the Vermentino grape as well as the ones in the north of Italy, especially in Alto Adige and Friuli Venezia Giulia. Very much of interest are the Galician in Spain from the Albarino grape or the north of Portugal from the Minho region.
Go New World, “the warmer, the fruitier” they say. I would personally choose a Pinot Gris from Alsace as I love the array of flavours and texture.
South American Malbec (Argentina), Merlot or Carmenere from Chile, US Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are all full bodied and fruity. In Europe there’s also an abundance of those wines.
Tempranillo (Rioja, Spain), Languedoc (France), Primitivo (Puglia, Italy), Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon (USA), Shiraz (Australia).
Gamay (Beaujolais, France), Blaufrankish (Austria).
Good value reds
Douro, Dao (Portugal), Aconcagua Costa (Chile), Mendoza (Argentina), Naoussa (Greece), Loire Valley (France).
Good value whites
I stick with Portugal! Spain has amazing value in its whites as well as Italy but it’s in South America and Australasia that you find the better quality ratio to price. I also strongly believe that value for whites and reds comes as a very personal perspective. Value to me definitely doesn’t mean cheap wines but wines that taste more expensive than the price tag.
Champagne! But also Cremant de Jura, Cremant de Loire, Cremant de Bourgogne (France), Prosecco Valdobbiadene, Franciacorta (Italy), Sekt (Germany) and Sussex (England).