By Jeff Flowers
Purchasing wine is always an exciting event, especially when you are new to the scene. Any savvy shopper can recall that feeling of sheer exhilaration that stems from not knowing quite what you are going to get.
For beginners, it’s about choosing whether to go with white or red, while novice shoppers tend to dance around the differences between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Finally, there are the true connoisseurs who relish in the interpretation of body, age, and everything in between. If you are wondering what any of those things mean, consider a few of these wine buying tips before your next acquisition.
1. Learn Common Wine Styles and Discover Your Tastes
When it comes to wine, a little education goes a long way. At the very least, you should understand the main differences between whites and reds. Then, read about the characteristics of each of the main grape categories. If you fancy sweeter flavors, hone in on sparkling wines and common dessert varieties. If you want a more full-bodied or dry flavor, go for darker reds. Keep in mind that no two manufactures make wine the same, so you might end up favoring a particular producer.
2. Learn How to Pair Wine with Food
Knowing a few pairing methods is a great way to learn about different types of wine and discover where your preferences lie. Champagne complements salty dishes while a Pinot noir works well with earthy flavors. Whether you eat a lot of fish or bake a lot of sweets, your wine experiences will be a much more enjoyable experience if you learn how to pair different flavors.
3. Download a Wine App
Just like every other product on the market, wine follows technology. Take advantage of one of the many wine-related smartphone apps available to you. These resources provide an abundance of useful information as well as great tips for your specific event or preference.
Also, don’t be afraid to open these up while you’re browsing in the store. It can be one of the most vital tools when you are standing in front of those intimidating shelves filled with hundreds of different brands.
4. Know How to Read a Label
Wine labels are surprisingly simple, so take a minute to learn the ins and outs. In America, all bottles must include the producer, brand name, alcohol content, net content, sulfite declaration, and a government warning.
Most bottles will also indicate the type of wine. You will find that many producers include useful extras like origin information, special color or flavor designations, and even food pairing suggestions. Taking the time to read a wine label before you buy it can provide you with the much-needed bits of insight required to pick the perfect bottle. It only takes a few seconds!
5. Take Advantage of Samples
You should ask for samples as soon as you enter the store. This is a great way to gear up your mind and your tastes. It also helps you gain real life experience and discover wines that you are less familiar with. Consider a verbal recommendation or an advertised special. After all, there’s a definite reason why the travel industry offers customized vacations focused entirely around the very hobby of wine tasting.
6. Ask for Help
Of all the wine buying tips, this one is the most overlooked. Your retailer is there to offer suggestions, answer questions, and guide you to the right purchase. Try to establish a relationship with the staff members.
7. Be Aware of Your Store’s Layout
It’s also a good idea to be familiar with the way your store operates. A lot of retailers arrange their American bottles according to the grape category, while foreign varieties are usually categorized by country. In most cases, reds are kept separate from whites. Knowing the specific layout helps speed things up.
8. Learn How to Properly Store Wine
So, what do you do when you finally take your prized bottle home? You either enjoy it or learn how to store it for later. Most commonly sold wines are meant to be consumed within a few months or years after they are purchased. Therefore, unless you are interested in maturing some of the more rare wines, you don’t have to fret about storage. In general, most bottles keep best at a temperature between 45° F and 65° F. A wine cooler is the easiest way to store your bottles. But, as long as you avoid drastic temperature changes, heavy shaking, and find a dark area away from direct sunlight, your wine should be ok.
Buying wine shouldn’t be a daunting task. In fact, it’s a cherished hobby for people worldwide. Think of it as your next museum excursion. Whatever your reason, consider some of these wine buying tips, especially if you’re new to the scene. A little knowledge can save you money, open up opportunities, enrich your experience, and make you a confident buyer.