Wine, one of the oldest beverages on the planet, remains one of the most popular drinks in the entire world. The Wine Institute estimates that 24 billion liters of the liquid gold are consumed around the world every year. Even in the United States, a country traditionally known for its 50 billion pints of beer consumed annually, according to the Beer Institute, wine is catching up; Americans now drink north of three billion liters of the fermented grape beverage annually, making them the number one consumers.
While wine may have taken the world by storm, the fact is that many of us still have no idea how to choose the perfect bottle of wine when we go to our local wine shops or when we’re dining at our favorite restaurants. If this sounds like you, don’t worry. With our guide, you can learn how to buy wine, whether at local wine stores or eateries.
How to Buy Wine in Four Simple Steps
- First and Foremost, Buy Wine You’ll Drink
- Do Not Buy Wine for Its Price
- Match Regional Wines to Regional Foods
- Don’t Buy from a Store That Doesn’t Care for Its Wine
As Carl York, a well-known NYC-based connoisseur tells Saveur.com, the most important thing to keep in mind when you buy wine is to buy something you’ll actually drink. Don’t look at the wine ratings or worry whether or not something was voted “best wine” at a contest you’ve never heard of. Instead, look for something you know you’ll love.
There is a prevalent, erroneous belief that you need to buy wine based on its price. “Only the finest, most expensive bottle will do,” the snobs will tell you. However, as WineGeeks.com suggests, price never equals quality. Some of the best French wines in the world, notably the Burgundy wines from Chablis, are also some of the most affordable. Don’t ignore a bottle of wine just because it’s $10. Likewise, don’t buy something just because you think an $80 price-tag means it’s amazing.
Cultivating a sensitive enough palate to accurately match the best wines with whatever you’re eating can literally take years. Admittedly, you could solve the problem by looking up common pairings for popular varieties on your smartphone, but assuming you have no service, WineFolly.com recommends you simply match regional varieties with regional food. For example, if you’re eating coq au vin or another dish from France, you’ll have a lot more success choosing a French wine over Italian choices.
Repeat after me: “If a wine store doesn’t care about it’s wine, then why should I?” If you enter a wine shop and it’s slightly cold and dark, that’s a sign that the owners care about their product and have taken steps to keep it fresh for their customers. On the other hand, walking into a brightly lit, well-heated establishment means you need to go elsewhere immediately.
Stop worrying about buying wine. Frankly, with these tips and a little practice, you’ll find yourself wondering why you ever had trouble in the first place.