Buying “great wine” is very subjective, at least I believe it is. Knowing how to select the right, or best, wine means you must consider a number of factors before you go to purchase that “great bottle” of wine. These factors include asking yourself what is: my budget, flavor preferences, favorite country of origin, and is there a special occasion I am buying the wine for? Look for wines that do not come from popular regions, such as Napa Valley and avoid grape varieties that do not taste good to you.
Choosing bottles of wine today is like choosing books. There are millions of them to select from. You need to educate yourself on what to look for and purchase, otherwise you may not like the wine you selected. You do not have to be a wine expert to enjoy wine or talk about it with friends and family.
Let us discuss a number of things that I think will help you select that great bottle of wine you are looking for at a price that does not break your budget. These are the factors I believe will help you purchase that great bottle of wine:
- Wine Labels: Leading up to this article I have written several blogs discussing New World and Old-World wine labels. If you have not yet read them yet, you might want to look at these articles for useable information on wine labels.
I have written in the past that there are several marketing terms that appear on labels that don’t really mean anything vital such as “Reserve” and Old Vines.” The important information on a label is the alcohol level and where the wine is produced. Red table wines range from 12% to 15.5% alcohol levels. High alcohol level wines tend to be richer and heavier. Lower alcohol level wines tend to be lighter. Which do you prefer?
Where the wine is made may make a difference in the price but not necessarily in the flavor profile. For example, Napa Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be pricey whereas Washington and Oregon Cabernet Sauvignon, which is equally good, may have much lower prices.
- Find Knowledgeable Sales Staff: It is always helpful to get the advice of a good knowledgeable wine person. You will want to select a wine store with a good staff that is both friendly and educated about a lot about wine.
There are several things you should not waver on when talking with the staff. Tell them what you want and the price range you have in mind. Ask them for recommendations and be sure to ask them if they have tried the wine, they are presenting for you to consider.
- Wine Apps: I recommend that you download a wine app on your phone. They will provide an enormous amount of information. There are several I would recommend, as I use them myself. My top picks:
Do not be afraid to open your app when you are in the store standing in front of hundreds of bottles of wine. May of the apps provide tasting notes which can be very helpful to you.
- Change Your Expectations: When I first started drinking wine, I only drank white wines. Over many years of trying wines I have changed my expectations by educating myself.
As an example, if you do not like Chardonnay perhaps you should try a French Chablis which is made from Chardonnay grapes. I find Chablis to be very interesting and tasty. Sometimes I surprise myself when I try a wine that I do not think will be good and it turns out to be a really tasty wine.
Over the past few years wine pricing has changed. Wines in the $4.00 per bottle range are no longer very good. You can still find good tasting wine and deals in the $10.00 to $20.00 per bottle price range. If you find a bottle you are interested in, use your wine apps to check it out. Ask the store staff about the wine as well. Also, do not forget to think about alcohol levels, region of production and so on.
I recommend trying one bottle first. If you find out you like the wine and want more, I recommend that you purchase a case and take advantage of the 10% to 15% discount most wine shops provide for case purchases.
You do not necessarily have to be a wine expert to purchase a great bottle of wine or to drink well. It is important to remember the things we discussed today. What is your budget? Stick to it? Is there an occasion that you are buying wine for? What kind of wine do you like? Do not forget to ask the wine store staff for assistance. Do not be afraid to ask questions. I also recommend that you attend wine tastings whenever you can. They are a great way to improve your wine knowledge.
What is the best bottle of wine you have every tasted? How much did you spend for that bottle of wine and was it too much or would you have spent more?
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Look Forward to These Happy Things: Upcoming LEX 530 Events!
The LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner on Friday, November 20, has been cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns in Elkhart County.
Important Wine Holidays
November 7 – International Merlot Day
November 12 – International Tempranillo Day
November 18 – International Zinfandel Day
December 4 – Cabernet Franc Day
December 20 – National Sangria Day
December 31 – National Champagne Day