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A Trick For Choosing Wine

Wine shops can be overwhelming. So many bottles, so many pretty labelsbut what do they actually taste like? We spoke to Michele Pravda, owner of Brooklyn wine shop Smith & Vine, who taught us this fun way to choose wine…

If you like BUTTERED TOAST, try a California Chardonnay. Chardonnay has buttery undertones, Michele explains, especially when its aged in American oak, which gives it a rich flavor.

If you like TROPICAL FRUITS, go for a Viognier. It has tropical notes, especially mango, she says. Tropical fruits are strong, big and intense, and so is Viognier.

If you like APPLES AND PEARS, youll love Pinot Grigios crisp, fresh flavor.

If youre a fan of CITRUS, you want a wine with more acidity. Gruner Veltliner is a good bet, and Michele recommends a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: Its got a definite fruity flavor to it, but with more acidity.

If you like the SMELL OF FRESHLY-CUT GRASS, try a white Bourdeaux, which has a grassy, herbaceous flavor profile.

If you always pick out the RED CANDIES, youd like a wine with notes of sweet red fruits. Try a Rioja, which tastes like sour cherries.

If you like DARK CHOCOLATE, try Malbec. Michele recommends choosing one from Chile or Argentina for notes of rich, dark chocolate.

If you cant get enough BACON, choose a smoky Pinot Noir from Oregon. (In wine vernacular, smoky bacon is a prized flavor for pinot noir.)

If you like SPICY THINGS, go for a Syrah. Micheles favorites are from Northern Rhone, which have an especially bold, spicy flavor profile.

If youre a STEAK fan, youll love Bandol from Provence. It has almost a bloody, gamey meat flavor, says Michele. Bonus: Bandol also pairs well with steak!

And the best tip of all? Just drink. Regular consumption is the single most important characteristic of the confident wine lover, says New York Times food critic Eric Asimov.

Which would you choose? What do you normally drink? Thank you, Michele!

P.S. 8 etiquette tips for drinking wine, and a trick for keeping lipstick off your wine glass.

(Illustrations by Caitlin McGauley for Cup of Jo. Interview by Caroline Donofrio)