I love wine. I am also horrible at buying it. Invariably, even though I try really hard, I pick out the worst, most vile tasting wines you can even imagine. I need to take a wine class or something – and it needs to be more substantial that the little tutorial I once took in Intercourse, PA. But until I stop procrastinating and do it, I found 8 tips for choosing good wineinstead!
1. Make a Plan, Man
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You need to know what you want the wine for before you do anything. Is it for cooking? Are you serving it with dinner or dessert? Do you want a sipping wine? These things will help you decide what to buy, before you have to start thinking about region, vintage, and so on.
2. Familiarize Yours with Stores
Just as every wine is different, every wine merchant is different as well. They sell their wines at different prices, they have different types, and they certainly have different brands. As a novice wine drinker, you don't want to go into a store that doesn't have anything for less than $100. That should wait until your palate is more refined.
3. Look around
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Again, if you are new to the wine game, never limit yourself. Don't hang around exclusively in the Merlot district; if you're a fan of red, you might like Pinot Noir as well. As well, don't assume that you don't like red, white, or rose; you may just need to taste a good example.
4. Take Resources with You
When you go on a wine buying expedition, it's completely okay to bring along some resources. This might be a printed page of tips, or it might be someone you know who is familiar with good wines. Don't be ashamed of your own lack of knowledge. You're just beginning! You'll get there. Until then, you need some help to save you from buying anything awful.
5. Quality and Quantity
Just because a bottle of wine costs a lot does not mean it is high quality. There are many other things to factor in when it comes to price, and it's no longer all about paying top dollar for a 20 year old bottle. This is why it's so important to bring resources with you at first. Or--
6. The Merchant is Your Friend
It's always a great idea to be friends with your wine merchant. You should make yourself familiar with any wine shop you frequent, and that includes befriending the people who work there. Their knowledge will be invaluable to you, and most likely, they'll be delighted to help you learn the fine art of choosing good wine.
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You can't be afraid to try new things. This includes tasting wines from different countries. It also means, again, that even if you think you don't like a certain type of wine, realize that you may just need to find a good example of it. Get risky with your palate. I bet you anything it will be worth it in the end.
8. Be Inventive about Buying
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Finally, realize that sometimes, good wine can be discounted, so don't be afraid to buy it at marked down prices. If you know it's good, forget about the price; just be glad to save on something you like. Also, don't be afraid to buy online. You can save a lot of money on some surprisingly fine wines.
I hope these tips help me improve my taste and palate. Are there any wine experts out there? Do you have any tips on how to choose good wines?
Top Photo Credit: Firenzesca