Wine can be a sophisticated and complex drink, but it can also be intimidating for many people. Buying wine can be a daunting task, especially for those who don’t have much experience with it. We never want to be the person who comes home from a wine shop, excitedly filling a wine glass, only to discover you’ve picked up a disappointing bottle of vino. This is one of the biggest problems when buying wine.
However, with some basic knowledge and a bit of guidance, anyone can make better decisions when buying wine. The key to buying a good one is learning to identify different quality levels of wine. This article will explore some of the most common mistakes people make when buying wine and how to avoid them.
1. Choosing wine based on the label
Many people choose wine based on the wine’s label or name. While there’s nothing wrong with being attracted to a label’s design or a wine’s name, it’s important to remember that a label can be deceiving. Nowadays, more and more wineries have been upgrading their graphic design game, coming up with unique and interesting labels to catch the attention of casual wine buyers. A fancy label or name doesn’t necessarily mean the wine inside is high quality or suited to your taste preferences.
You may also be misled by sticker-laden bottles, making you assume that these wines are “winners.” Some wines are marketed with stickers, saying they came from top wineries from some place or got a high rating of some sort. But most of these claims are ungrounded, and most wineries pay to participate in competitions and ratings, so the objectivity of the claims cannot be proven.
Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t also judge a wine by its label.
2. Assuming that expensive wine is always better
Another common mistake is assuming that expensive wine is always better. While there are certainly some high-priced wines that are exceptional, price doesn’t always equate to quality. In fact, plenty of great wines are available at a lower price point.
The best way to determine the quality of a wine is to taste it. Attend wine tastings or take advantage of a store’s sampling policy to try different wines within your budget. You might be surprised to find that some of your favorite wines are quite affordable.
3. Overlooking lesser-known regions or grape varietals
Sometimes, a wine label may entice you because it says it came from Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Barolo, Rioja, etc. These regions have proven their worth in the wine world across the ages, and there’s no doubt they can make fabulous wines. But the kicker is, seeing these regions written on the label doesn’t exactly mean the wine is of great quality, and for that, shopping for a mid-price wine, you’re more likely to get your money’s worth from a more obscure, less famous part of the world.
Most people stick to the same regions or grape varietals they’re familiar with, so they tend to miss out on some great wines from lesser-known regions or grape varietals. For example, most people are familiar with California Cabernet Sauvignon or French Bordeaux, but plenty of other regions produce excellent Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux-style blends.
To avoid this mistake, be open to trying new things. Look for wines from regions or grape varietals you’re not familiar with and try them. You might discover some hidden gems.
4. Not considering food pairing
Another common mistake is not considering food pairing when selecting a wine. Pairing food and wine is a fine art, and it’s one that can take years of practice to get your head around. Different wines complement different types of food, and pairing the wrong wine with a dish can negatively affect the taste of both.
To avoid this mistake, consider the flavors and textures of the food you’ll serve when choosing a wine. For example, a bold red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with red meat, while a crisp white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc is better suited to seafood or lighter dishes.
Don’t worry, there are apps and websites that are dedicated to recommending the right pairing to hit expert sommelier standards. If you don’t have the time and you need to bring wine to some dinner party (and you don’t know what the host will cook), you’ll never go wrong with a bottle of champagne. People don’t usually turn their noses up at a glass of bubbly. Classic flexible wines like Pinot Noirs and Sauvignon Blancs also go well with a huge variety of dishes.
5. Overlooking the screw cap
Popping a cork from a wine bottle is a satisfying feeling – it’s one of the aspects of wine drinking that gives so much pleasure. But now, it’s not good to hold a prejudice against screw-cap wines. In the 21st century, where more businesses are gearing towards more sustainable packaging, it would be a bit irresponsible to only opt for corked wines.
Screw caps are typically associated with cheaper, lower-quality wines. Cork is the most traditional method of sealing wine as it has been used for thousands of years, while screw caps are new on the wine scene – they were first used in the 70s for convenience. But many people didn’t know that, generally, screw-caps are the safer bet when it comes to wine because there’s no risk of a dreaded cork taint. Screw caps seal the bottle of wine so that no air will get in, preventing the wine from aging post-bottling.
When it comes to cork-sealed wines, the oxidization process that the cork allows helps develop the flavors, but often, old wines vary in taste because of the cork. The variability and oxygen may lead you to open an expensive bottle of aged wine only to find that it doesn’t taste as it should. If you only buy cork-sealed wines, you may miss out on a lot of delicious screw-capped choices.
6. Buying wine at the last minute
This is one of the usual mistakes that can’t always be avoided. Perhaps you’ve been invited at the last minute to attend a dinner or a party, and you haven’t got the time to drive by your favorite wine store, so you end up hurrying to the nearest vendor.
But as much as possible, stop buying wine at the last moment if you need to purchase premium wine. Chances are, you’ll end up grabbing something from a rack with limited options – the sort of mass-produced stuff does not taste like “the real thing.” You’re likely to wind up with a typical, mass-produced wine that you wouldn’t drink if you had a choice.
Wherever possible, give yourself some time to shop from a reputable wine shop that can allow you to bring an impressive bottle of vino.
7. Not speaking to the wine shop assistants
Wine can sometimes be intimidating, but it doesn’t mean that those who work with wine have to be that way. Most people who work in wine shops are passionate about what they do, and they have a deep interest and experience in tasting a wide variety of wines. Often, they love to share their favorites and top tips with customers.
So when buying, don’t hesitate to ask a knowledgeable salesperson for recommendations based on your taste preferences. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or take notes for future reference.
8. Bargain hunting
Don’t we all love a good bargain? Buying something for a lower than its average price is always one of life’s little joys. But bargain wine is not always a bargain. More often than not, risking bargain buckets and budget shelves when wine shopping is likely to end badly. You need to understand that wine buying is an exercise in general relativity.
It’s obvious that you shouldn’t expect much from very cheap wines. Good-tasting, premium wines tend to taste better and cost a bit more because they are made of higher-quality grapes that are handled with greater care at the winery.
But on the flip side, the really expensive wines are also something of a joke – wine shouldn’t cost too much. At a certain point, the pleasure you gain from the bottle of wine won’t correspond to the price you paid for it.
In short, wine doesn’t have to be very expensive to be good – it just needs to be well-made.
9. Storing wine incorrectly
Finally, many people make the mistake of storing wine incorrectly. Wine is a delicate beverage that can be affected by light, temperature, and humidity. If not stored properly, wine can spoil, lose its flavor, or even turn into vinegar.
To avoid this mistake, store wine in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature and humidity level. Avoid storing wine in a place with frequent temperature fluctuations, such as a garage or attic.
10. Purchasing wine from a business that had little to do with developing it
Many of the wines sold by online wine clubs and wine warehouse sites are close-outs that were either unpopular or did not sell elsewhere. In reality, in many situations, the vendor has likely never even held a wine, let alone sampled it. Buy directly from wineries rather than intermediaries or consolidators. Buy only high-quality grenache mclaren vale wines on this site for an affordable price.
Buying wine can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By avoiding these common mistakes and taking the time to research and taste different wines, you can find the perfect wine for your taste preferences and budget. Remember to be open-minded, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to try something new.