Buy Fine Wine at Great Prices

The easiest way to do this is to wait for your local liquor store to have their periodic sales. For example, about once a month a large liquor store nearby our home, which carries a reasonably good selection of wines from around the world, has a sale for 15% off for those on their “family plan”. So that’s obviously the time to stock up.

The next question is what wines to choose. Unless you already know some good producers and have your favorites, the best guides are the little tags which give wine ratings by wine critics such as Robert Parker of “The Wine Advocate“, the “Wine Spectator“, and “The Wine Enthusiast“, among others. Most good liquor stores make a point to display these tags for the wines that the critics have tasted. As an example of wine ratings, here are the criteria used by Robert Parker, considered by many to be the foremost of wine critics:

To be sure, you will not find fine wines rated at 96 or above on the cheap, 15% off or not! However, it is entirely possible to find wines rated in the upper 80’s (very good) or even low 90’s (low outstanding range) for good prices, often $10 or less on sale! If your wine or liquor store does not display the ratings tags, suggest that they do so, or if necessary find another store that does.

The main advantage of the above strategy is that you are basing your purchases on some opinion. If you simply choose a wine without knowing anything about it, you might still find a pleasurable bottle, but the chances of success are considerably diminished.

Another resource for choosing fine wines is a good local wine specialty shop. In our town we have a shop run by a young man who is extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of wine, from vineyard practices to production to tasting, and he is truly passionate about the subject. I have learned to trust his judgment, and when he recommends a wine, I can count on it being a good choice. Of course he needs to charge more than the large volume liquor stores for his wines, but his knowledgeable inputs more than make up for the extra cost. So I routinely make a point to pick up some bottles at this shop in addition to stocking up as described above.

If you can afford to purchase and cellar great fine wines, then by all means go for it. But if your wine budget is a little more down to earth, try the procedure outlined above. I have found the wines recommended by the critics are almost always good, (nothing is foolproof, however, as evidenced by a solidly mediocre Tuscan wine we tried last week), but you’ll be pleased most of the time. Personally I like the choices of Robert Parker as well as those of The Wine Spectator. Also, I like to learn what I can about the wine, the grapes used, and also production methods used such as oak aging, malolactic fermentation, etc. This is easily accomplished using the LaRousse Encyclopedia of Wine or other reference books. The more you learn about wine the more you will enjoy the experience, and you‘ll also learn more about how fine wines make food taste better. And as the old adage goes, “life is too short to drink bad wine”.

This entry was posted by by on Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 at 6:01 pm and is filed under wine. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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