Monday, June 16, 2014

Getting to Know Your Local Wine Shop

By Liza B. Zimmerman

I do a lot of wine education for people from all kinds of wine backgrounds. Many say they buy highly rated wines or belong to wine clubs as they don’t know how to choose what they want in a wine shop. I say take the matter into your own hands and create your own scoring system based on what you love to drink. You don’t have to pay for the big brands advertising and marketing budget: but you do have to shop at a good wine store.

Most of us also need to learn a little bit of wine speak: do you actually like sweet wines or just the perfume coming off of those big, fruity reds? Terms like body, acid and style are important. Try to jot down what you know that you like. Favorite grapes are a plus as well; while they can be produced very differently all over the world they do retain their varietal characteristics.

Practical Points
Don’t be afraid to mention price points. We all have a comfort level about what we want to spend on an
evening in, or out. Fewer of us are embarrassed about sharing that since the economy took at dip six years ago. If you were in a restaurant you could point with your finger to the type of wine you would like, at the right price point, and the sommelier would oblique.

At retail, just tell the salesperson what you would like to spend per bottle. Ten or even $15 should get you some nice wines. If you have a particular passion for a region or a grape, don’t be afraid to ask for the buyer of wines from that area. They really known the region and will probably be delighted to talk to you.

Have your wine shop put together a mixed case for you, ideally of somewhat similar wines at close price points. Go home and taste them and note what you like and don’t. When you have your wine speak on go back and tell your new friend what you like and don’t and why. If he or she totally failed you, you may need to change salesperson or store.

You can also do all of this on the phone in the comfort of your home. Going into a store is great when you already have a sense of what you like, but might be overwhelming initially.

See my ABC coverage of how to buy great wines at retail, filmed in San Francisco: Click Here

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

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