Wine shopping is one of my favourite hobbies. It’s a joy to peruse the aisles at my local wine shop, looking for the perfect bottle to enjoy with dinner. Even better, I find a wine that I have never tried before. It’s my hobby, and I’m a wine enthusiast, so I’ve become quite proficient at it. It’s easy to choose the right wine. But, I found that wine choosing was the most difficult part of wine drinking. Don’t worry! You don’t need to be a wine expert to find the perfect wine. I have spent many years in retail wine and know how to help. These are my top tips and tricks for choosing wine. You’ll be able to identify the best wines for your occasion and avoid buying them again.
How to ask for help in a wine shop
My best advice is to go to a local wine shop with friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Ask for help! Ask for help! These are the questions that they will likely ask to help you select the right wine.
Do you want to buy this wine?
Although this seems odd, there is a way around it. The wine recommendation for a gift wine will vary depending on the recipient. If it is a gift for your boss, for example, you will want to choose a wine with name recognition so that they will be impressed by your incredible selection. For your nephew in college, you won’t buy the exact same wine. You might want to gift something unusual and unique if it is for a wine-lover friend.
Do you drink this wine with food or just wine?
The wine shop can help you match wine and food if you enjoy wine and food together. My old motto was Old World with food, New World without. Wines from the Old World are wines from Europe and the Middle East, where one wouldn’t think of drinking wine with food. These wines are typically a little more acidic and should be enjoyed with a meal. You can find the basic information in my ebook, A Sommelier’s Secrets to Wine & Food Pairing.
If you don’t plan on eating and just want to sip wine while watching a movie or reading a book, the New World section will have wines from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and the US. These wines can be enjoyed with meals, but they are more fruity and easier to drink by themselves.
What do you drink most often?
You can tell me if you drink Malbec, Syrah and Zinfandel. These wines are bold, spicy reds. A wine shop clerk can discern the same thing. They won’t direct you to Pinot Noir but may introduce you to Monastrell from Spain.
How much do you have to spend?
This is fairly self-explanatory. Your budget should be clear. Do not be afraid to tell the wine shop clerk that you would like to spend less than $15. Okay, it’s not as if the wine shop clerk is making a lot of money and only buying 1st-growth Bordeaux. We’ll get to the budget part later.
Here’s another tip to help you choose the perfect wine
These questions will help you find the perfect wine for your occasion if you ask them. You can hex the first person you speak to and ask them questions. Are you feeling adventurous? Ask them a question. What are you most excited about right now? Wine shop geeks are happy to show you the latest and greatest wines in their shops.
Take a few bottles of the recommended bottle. Take notes on the bottles and snap a photo of them after you have tried them. You can identify what you like or dislike about the wine. Next time you visit a wine shop, ensure you are talking to the same person. They should be able, from this information, to determine what you like and offer better recommendations.