Despite drinking a lot of it over the years, I know very little about wine. But, when faced with a wall of the stuff at Auchan or LeClerc, I thought I had evolved a really foolproof way of choosing it.
Obviously, a nice looking label is important. Ditto, a cork rather than a screw top. But key to my strategy was to choose a wine that had won an award. If the bottle bore a little badge saying 'médaille d'or' 'médaille d'argent' I knew I was on to a winner. An official judging panel couldn't be wrong.
But suddenly this ploy no longer works. Wine producers have realised that many of us are suckers for a gold or silver medal. And so these medals have proliferated to the point that now nearly every wine in the supermarket seems to have won an award - in some cases, awarded by themselves.
So I have been forced to refine my strategy, with seven key rules. For the benefit of other non-wine buffs, here they are:
1 Always go for the wine that has fewer bottles left on the shelf (it's obviously popular if there aren't many left.)
2 Avoid anything that doesn't have a date on it.
3 Avoid any label featuring primary colours or looks too modern (I'm not sure why this is but such wines never taste good.) In my experience, wines that come with old fashioned looking labels are best.
4 For red Bordeaux, 2003 and 2006 where exceptional years; 2007 was mediocre (I think).
5 If you're looking for a decent white you can rarely go wrong with a Chablis (I know less about whites than I do about red.)
6 Avoid anything 'éleve en futes de chene' (though that's just my personal taste as I don't like wines that taste of oak).
7 There is nothing wrong with a Cotes de Rhone. It's seen as the Liebfraumlich of the red wine world, but some are very good.
It's not exactly Jancis Robinson or Robert Parker, but if anyone has any other tips, I'd love to hear them.