Learn To Love Your Sommelier: Get To Know Your Wine Store

Learn To Love Your Sommelier: Get To Know Your Wine Store

Start A Relationship With A Wine Retailer
Whether you buy a bottle of $15 wine twice a month or drink wine nightly, create a relationship with your wine retailer. This gesture will not only lead you to wines you’ll like, but to inexpensive, well-made palate pleasers.

Don’t Be Lured

How many wines have you purchased because of a pretty label? How often have you regretted those acquisitions? The right retailer can lead you to a wine that you will adore because she will get to know a bit about your palate and provide tools to assist in your choice. You’ll avoid buying wine based on packaging, erroneous expectations, or simply because the price is right.

1. Choose Your Retailer

Check out many neighborhood stores. When you sense a professionally-run shop, invest in a modest bottle of wine. An active floor staff is key—not just bodies behind registers collecting money. Well-stocked categories are telling signs; I’d like a choice of Burgundies so I’m not constrained by a small selection of innocuous “cookie cutter” brands. Perhaps the most important indicator of an appropriate shop is the air temperature. Hint: Think wine storage.

2. Utilize Retailer Wisdom

Found a shop you feel comfortable in? Begin building a relationship by asking an available staff member for help. If you will be consuming the wine yourself, try to describe what you like. Truth is, “light and dry” means something different to everyone, but these types of adjectives are a great starting point. Have a dialogue and state what’s important to you: price, organics, fruitiness, or funk. The more input you can offer, the better the sales staff will understand your palate.

3. Assess Your Success

Invest in an everyday wine the first time around. When you pop the cork, compare how the pro described it to what you imagined. Jot down some notes on your receipt and pay another visit. If you give feedback, the two of you will soon be in stride. Once you know your palate preferences, you can zero in on saving money by finding your style in lesser-known categories.

4. Chase The Bonuses

Some wine shops offer wine samplings on a weekend or during an evening. This is the perfect opportunity to taste and examine what you like in wine. Remember to jot down favorites to refer to when asking for similar wines. Once you have found “the store,” ask about the discount policy. Most stores offer one as an incentive for customer loyalty. My favorite wine shop offers deeper discounts to “club members.” Membership is free, and you are awarded club member status when you’ve purchased 50 different bottles of wine. Another respected NYC shop awards points for money spent, which can be redeemed at certain intervals. In both cases, getting involved will save you big bucks in the long run.

Happy shopping!

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