Tips on How to Buy Wine

There are four strategies to keep in mind if you want to find the best wines at the best price in your local wine shop.

To make sure you get a great bottle every time, remember these four things: go to a reliable source, ask questions, know what you want to spend and remember what you’ve tried and liked.

Go to a Reliable Merchant

Reliable has three parts. You have to look for •honest people who know their product and take good care of it.

There’s not much dishonesty in the wine business, but at the least you should ask people who work in the retail end of the business if they drink what they sell. Never buy wine from merchants who don’t drink wine themselves. Feel free to ask a lot of questions and feel comfortable expecting good answers.

Good wine can be ruined by bad storage so avoid any place that’s warm in the summer. It’s always a good idea to ask store personell where they keep their wine. The answer you want is something like “In climate-controlled storage, would you like to take a look?”

The best way to find a reliable source is to ask all your knowledgeable wine friends. If you don’t have any savvy wine buddies, maybe you should seek some out at wine tastings and wine societies.

Ask Questions

Along with information on particular wines, this is how you’ll find out if you have a reliable source. A good wine store hires people who love wine. Your questions should be answered enthusiastically. If a clerk recommends a wine, be sure to ask if he’s tasted it himself. If the staff can’t answer your questions, there’s not much chance they can make a recommendation.

Know What You Want to Spend

There’s a place for every day wine and a place for special wines. Have an idea of what your budget is for each type and only let yourself be talked over-budget occasionally. Remember that there’s a lot of really good wine available for about ten bucks a bottle.

Remember What You Liked

If you have a great memory, good for you. If you’re a person who needs a list for a three-item trip to the grocery store, it may be worthwhile to start a little wine notebook. Your notes don’t have to be elaborate affairs worthy of a magazine, just write down the name-including vintage year-the price you paid and whether that wine, at that price seemed like a good purchase. I suggest a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ scoring system. ‘Yes’ means that you felt that the wine was worth the price you paid.

You can use your notes to feed back into step two above: ask for wines like the ones you said ‘Yes’ to.

All this is about buying wine in a bricks-and-mortar store. There are a lot of on-line sources for buying wine these days.