We’ve all been there – walking into a wine shop and being unsure where to start. Shopping for wine can be intimidating, especially for beginners, but once you get to grips with the basics you’ll soon come to enjoy and savour the experience. Here are some handy tips to get you started:
1. Don’t fall for discounts
It’s not a guarantee that a discounted wine will be bad, but don’t purchase a bottle you’d have never considered just because there’s a couple of pounds off the price. Reductions are often offered on stock that isn’t selling well, so you do have to ask yourself: are you getting a great deal, or just taking home a bottle of something that no one else wants?
2. Explore all the shelves
Next time you’re shopping for wine, look beyond the varieties placed at eye level. Brands often pay more to be placed in this ‘view zone’, where consumers are more likely to reach for their product, or store employees will arrange wines in this area to push sales. To be sure you’re choosing the wine you really want, explore the full range of what is available. Perhaps you’ll find a new favourite you’d have otherwise not spotted.
3. Look beyond your local supermarket
To find the really great wines, it’s worth venturing to your local wine shop, where they’ll have a much more extensive range of interesting options. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, let a member of staff help you; good wine shops will have experts on hand to offer advice and make recommendations. Another way to get to grips with wine is by buying online, as you can easily take your time discovering what’s available.
4. Use an app to help you
If you’re still not sure which wines you might like to try, there are a range of apps that could help with your decision, including Cellartracker and Wine-Searcher. You can use these to see ratings as well as find out more about tasting notes and food pairings for specific varieties.
5. Read the back of the label
Though it may be tempting when overwhelmed by choice, you should avoid buying a wine just because you like the look of the label. Take your time to look at the back of the label for more information, read the description and take note of details such as the alcohol level and the vintage, which can tell you a lot about the style and quality of the wine. If you are purchasing online, the description on the listing should provide all the information you need to know.
6. Shop for the occasion
There’s a wine for nearly every situation, with some being better suited than others to specific occasions or foods. If you’re having a meal with red meat, a red Bordeaux is a great choice, whilst a dry pinot grigio pairs beautifully with pasta. For a celebration, you might opt for a sparkling wine such as the Krasna natural Sekt, a Pinot Noir that makes an excellent and great value alternative to a classic champagne.
7. Be wary of wine marketing
On certain wines you may be drawn to stickers or labels that read things like ‘Grand Vin’ or ‘Gold Medal Standard’, but these aren’t legally defined terms and are essentially just a marketing tactic to make the wine appear more intriguing. These wines may be great but try not to make a judgement based solely on this kind of terminology.
8. Make a note of wines you’ve enjoyed
When you find a wine you really like, make a note of it. This will help you look for similar wines next time you’re shopping and get a feel for what you most enjoy. You should always jot down the region and grape as well as the wine’s name – the Krasna natural Sekt is a 2018 Pinot Noir from Moravia, for example. Try using a wine app or the notes section in your smartphone to more easily keep track of your favourites.