Choosing a wine, whether for your home enjoyment, a gift for a friend or colleague, or at a restaurant is a lot easier than you might think. This is stating the obvious, but no matter who or what occasion you’re buying for, your first port of call is personal preference. From there, it’s simply a matter of choosing whether to branch out and try something new or to stick with your tried and tested favourites.

If you’re looking for a bottle to bring to a friend’s house or a dinner party, it helps to know what is on the menu. Since this isn’t always realistic, you can go for crowd-pleasing styles like an Aussie GSM blend, which will go with many meat dishes. We’re fans of the John Duval Plexus GSM blend from Barossa wine region in Australia. The old vines which produce the grapes that go into this wine mean the contents of the bottle will be concentrated and flavourful, and you’ll get a nice balance of ripe fruit, luscious texture, and supple tannins. These are all characteristics many people enjoy. Or if you think your group might prefer something a little lighter, it’s hard to go wrong with a quality Pinot Noir, like Casas del Bosque Winemaker’s Selection from Chile.

White wines can be a touch trickier, but most folks enjoy a bright, refreshing style, so a Sauvignon Blanc wouldn’t go amiss. If you know your crowd likes full-bodied oaky wines, you could buy a Chardonnay or you could opt for the delicious Closerie de Vaudieu Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

You can also go in the opposite direction and pick up an unusual variety or a less familiar region that can be a topic of conversation. The Francos Reserva is a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, Portuguese grapes varieties that are less common but make excellent, dark-hued, rich wines. This is more of a wildcard approach, but you can always ask you trusted Wine Adviser if you have questions.

Buying a wine for someone celebrating a promotion, birthday, or just because? Bubbles are a safe bet, as are fine red wines like a Bordeaux, Burgundy, or Barolo. Let the occasion be your guide. While it’s always better to select something you know the recipient will enjoy, ultimately, it’s the thought that counts.

As far as choosing a wine at a restaurant, there’s a bit of an art to it but it’s not rocket science either. We’ve broken down everything you need to know in another article which you can check out here.

The bottom line is to not get into a tizzy worrying about picking up the perfect bottle of wine. While a great wine can certainly enhance a meal or improve an evening, a mediocre bottle can be more memorable if shared having a laugh with good company.