If there’s one thing I’ve learned above all others it’s I still have a lot to learn. When buying wine there are a few small tips from years of making mistakes I’d like to offer. By the way, this failing over and over is called wisdom in many corners of the globe. That sounds great but thinking back it just seems like a whole lot of pain! Yes, my friends I have rushed out blindly guided only by compulsion and was rewarded with mediocrity. Those days have been tremendously reduced by a few small rules I now live by.
The first and most important is this: There will always be another great vintage and there will always be another great wine. So when you hear the merchant say, “This is a once in a lifetime experience, or we only have three cases, remember there’s another wine on the market to take its place. Believe me.
The second is trust your own palate. Repeat. Trust your own palate! No one can tell you what to like.
The third is buy a bottle before you buy a case. If you love the wine then buy more, if you don’t then you saved the expense of eleven bottles.
The fourth is stay with what you know for larger purchases until you complete step three.
The fifth is get with a group of interested people who are also learning. This way you can taste together and enjoy more bottles over a shorter period of time. Having tasting groups allows all to bring a different bottle and you experience a lot more things than you would on your own.
The sixth is find a wine server in a local restaurant and a well informed wine merchant that you trust and while dining out or visiting the shop try different things he or she may suggest. Again in small quantities!
The seventh is find one or two critics you agree with most of the time, say 70%. Then from his or her suggestions you can try some of the bottles.
The eighth is go to one or two wine functions a year. Maybe a dinner of a producer you’re unfamiliar or wanted to try. Maybe a celebration of many producers at one function. Many distributors have these type tasting’s open to the public.
The ninth is try some of the wine you bought long ago. Some of those bottles may not have aged as gracefully as you may have thought, and could be sold to recoup some of your money. But even if the wine is stellar always remember continue to taste through the life of a bottle because it’s better to catch the wine on its way up then on its way down.
The tenth and final step is Storage, Storage, Storage! Wine is a perishable item, and heat is its largest enemy. Also sun, too dry, motion, too cold. All these things play havoc with wine so have a decent cellar, or storage facility for your better wines!
Hope this helps because I certainly would like you to avoid the degree in wisdom I received the hard way. Also remember after a long time of tasting there will be certain givens. Some wines you can just trust year in and out, but getting there takes time. Until then stay with the 10 steps.
May you achieve inner peace and tranquility with your purchases.