Wine stores and supermarkets typically stock hundreds, if not thousands, of different wines. Knowing which bottle to select can, understandably, feel like a Herculean task. Here are a few pointers to help you understand the wine-shopping process.
5 Factors to Consider When Buying Wine
Here are some factors to consider when selecting a bottle of wine, whether you're shopping for wine in a grocery store, wine shop, or off the wine list at a restaurant.
1. Understand your financial situation. Decide how much you want to spend before you go to the restaurant or wine shop. Keep in mind that the most expensive wine isn't always the best wine to choose. If you're having trouble deciding on a wine, tell the shopkeeper, waiter, or sommelier your price range and let them guide you to some options within your price range.
2. Consider the occasion. The criteria for purchasing wine vary according to the occasion. For example, when pairing wine with a meal, think about how the wine will enhance the eating experience. If you're just hanging out with friends, you might want something that will please everyone without detracting from the rest of the evening. Before making a choice, consider the role you want the wine to play.
3. Pair with food. Different wines complement different types of food. Rosé, sparkling wines, and white wines pair well with chicken, fish, and vegetable dishes, while red wines pair well with beef and lamb. You could, for example, pair Sauvignon Blanc with a salad, Chardonnay with salmon, and Cabernet Sauvignon with filet mignon.
4. Follow your palate. Reading the wine labels and looking for flavor notes they know and love will help novice wine drinkers. More seasoned wine drinkers will remember the wine regions and vintages they have previously enjoyed and will use that knowledge to select future bottles. If you enjoy California wines, consider a 2019 Napa Valley Merlot—a notable vintage for that varietal and region.
5. Ask for help. Whether you're a novice or an expert, seeking advice is always a good idea, especially when you're stuck. Every good bottle shop or restaurant will have a resident expert who can point you in the right direction based on your budget, occasion, and preferences. Help may be more difficult to come by at big box retailers; instead, if you're looking for a great wine, consider shopping at a local wine shop.
4 Tips on How to Buy Wine
Consider the following wine-buying advice:
1. Start with confidence. Be confident with the options in the wine aisle as you look through them. There are wines you know you like, so you can be confident that you will find another one. As a starting point for discovering new wines, start with the types of wines you already know you enjoy.
2. Attend a tasting class. Wine's complexity is appealing, but it can also be intimidating. However, there is no need to be alarmed. The more you learn about and experience wine, the easier it is to purchase it. Tasting classes are an excellent venue for this. Go wine tasting with some friends and make a list of the wines you like.
3. Drink as the locals do. Traveling provides an excellent opportunity to sample new wines. Visit a winemaker in France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, or Spain and buy a bottle made from local grape varieties. California (particularly wines from Sonoma and Napa Valley), Oregon, and Washington State are among the best wine regions in the United States.
4. Price can be deceiving. Some high-quality wines command high prices in wine shops and specialty cellars, but if you want something to drink tonight, try something less expensive. In general, the more expensive the wine, the more likely it has a complex flavor profile—which isn't for everyone.