Avoiding these 10 common wine buying techniques:

6th September 2017

  • Do not judge a wine by its cover. Yes, we all do it I know, be it that book we have chosen at the library or picking the biggest wrapped present from the lucky dip – we are all influenced by packaging. Try not to though be too allured by a wine label design, sometimes it never matches the quality in the bottle!
  • Cheap is cheerful or is it? Price dictates most of the paths we go down in life and this includes our choices in wine! Try and avoid supermarket sales on wine as usually the wine you are getting a few pounds and dollars off was only ever that inflated price for a short few weeks and the wine was only ever a few £ / $’s in the first place!
  • Thinking the big names are best. At times we are safe to go with recognised brands so to give us a fair experience from clothing to holidays… But what about wine? Lots of the big names in wine, the ones you’ll for sure see in the local supermarket as mass produced in the millions per year, sometimes quality is compromised from making volume – go with that lesser known name that may contain a surprise tasting experience as it is probably made by a small family group with no directors / CEO’s / company cars to pay for…
  • There is only Bordeaux and Champagne? Yes, these are near enough the joint king of wines, but do not be afraid to experiment. If it is fizz you are after remember that Champagne shares its method in its making with the likes of Franciacorta from Italy, English Sparkling Wine from the UK and Cava from Spain and what must be noted is that these ‘other’ sparkling wines tend to win awards against Champagne from the top wine industry professionals!
  • Dated and out of time. In most occasions, the wine you’ll buy is likely to be drinkable now or at least young enough for you to keep for a while. Wines do not always improve with age and certainly, it is wrong to think that any wine left to rest in a cellar for a hundred years will be amazing. Some wines are past their best even if just a few years old – do your research especially with wines like Beaujolais and Prosecco for an example.
  • Failing to shop around. Today we have choice when it comes to buying wine from the supermarket to eBay… Shop around if you can, research the reviews on line and you’ll probably, especially if you are seeking a certain quality of taste from your wine, find a great selection to chose from that you’d probably never heard of.
  • Outside of Italy and France does exist. As a wine professional taster myself, I have now tasted wines from nearly all over the world and soon learnt that the treasures of the world of wine is not confined to just La France or Italia. Think Indian, Argentinian, Georgian and many more out of the box thoughts and you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
  • Try something new instead of same again. It is very common to once you have discovered a good wine, especially at your local supermarket, you stick with it. I suggest to experiment every so often, try a new country or region, taste the different styles of wines from rosé to sparkling red and think about different grape varieties too which will express themselves by offering varied tasting wines.
  • Choosing the second cheapest wine on the menu when dining out. We have all done it haven’t we? ‘I will choose not the cheapest and most certainly do not have enough money nor knowledge to be going for one of the most expensive, so I’ll go for that one just off from the bottom on the price list’. Be aware that this is such a known trend and restaurants / bars will also know this can be the most commonly chosen wine by consumers so usually see this as a chance to make some decent profit margins on their wines – it is likely to be the least economical choice on the wine list for value for your money.
  • Avoiding screw caps. Now I am one who does like to uncork a bottle and it really is part of the wine enjoyment process for me whereas a screw cap just doesn’t give the same feeling. Though be aware that many wines have now gone over to screw caps for many reasons to include economical and environmental, it though does not decrease the value of the wine nor the taste quality. There are some very good wines, especially young ones, that are now screw caps.

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.