No matter how experienced you are, the world of wine can be hard to navigate. Labels are hard to decipher, you have to be an expert at languages as well as wine jargon. Sometimes this means that when it comes to buying wine, we stick to what we know. But there’s so much more to discover.
Here are 9 mistakes we see when people buy wine, and our tips to avoid them so you always leave with an amazing bottle.
We’ve all been there: you’re invited to a last minute dinner or on the way to a party you’ve realized you’ve forgotten the gift. So you do what any of us would do, head to the nearest grocery store to pick up a bottle of wine so you don’t show up empty handed. But this is where mistakes can happen. Whether it’s because you feel rushed or you just want to buy something, you end up picking up the first bottle you see. Whilst it may turn out to be a stellar bottle, more often than not, it’s a supermarket-friendly, mass-produced bottle of wine. In other words, not a bad bottle, but nothing that will impress.
It’s no fault of your own, supermarkets are designed to display the most popular wines prominently because that’s just what they are, popular. They’ll help draw customers to the wine aisles to make a purchase. That’s why it’s important to take your time, even if it’s just an extra 5 or 10 minutes, to browse through the aisles and check the side rooms. These are the areas you’ll find the bottles that won’t just be good, but will leave a lasting impression.
Granted, this isn’t always an option when shopping in the Philippines. But if you happen to go into a dedicated wine store, then ask questions. You can ask about what the popular wines are, what the new wines are, what the staff themselves have been enjoying, anything that will help narrow your search. If you’re lucky enough to be in a place with a trained Sommelier, then take the opportunity to ask for their recommendations based on what you like, or what you’re eating (see next section).
Alternatively, if you’re buying wine online then take the time to read product descriptions. These are curated descriptions about the wines to help give you a better understanding of the flavor profile. They often also come with pairing suggestions to make things that much easier. Feel free to also contact the store via their social media or website for suggestions or tips on what bottles to buy — there will always be someone just a message away ready to help.
If you really want things to shine, think about what food you’re going to be eating or serving and choose your wine accordingly. We’ve spoken about wine and food pairings in the past so we won’t go into too much detail, but it’s important to remember to pair your wine to the most prominent element in your dish.
If you’re really not sure what to pick, go for a sparkling wine. It’s hard to find someone who wouldn’t enjoy starting their night with a glass of sparkling wine, plus they pair well with many appetizers and even rich or oily foods like fried chicken.
We aren’t saying you should always buy the most expensive bottle of wine, but nor should you buy the cheapest bottle you find. We all love a good bargain, but sometimes it’s too good to be true. That ₱100 750ml bottle of wine? Let’s just say you shouldn’t be expecting anything multi-layered or interesting when sipping on this. Instead, look to the mid-range. Anything in the ₱500-₱1,500 range will usually serve you well and sometimes may even surprise you on the quality in comparison to the price.
Like we said in the start, it’s easy to stick to what we know. But when it comes to wine, it’s the less-known regions and varieties that will always surprise you. So rather than going for the same Cabernet Sauvignon you always buy, we suggest venturing into something like a Cabernet Franc. It’ll still give you those elements you love from a Cab Sauv, but with a twist. The same goes for regions. If you’re not ready to venture into truly unknown territory, we suggest getting a wine from a specific appellation. For instance, instead of a California red, look to a Napa Valley wine. The more defined the region on the bottle, the more quality control it has gone through.
Screw caps, or Stelvin closures, may have gotten a bad rap in the past. Associated with cheap and poor quality wines, many people avoided any wine that wasn’t sealed with a cork. But the story is very different today. In fact, the majority of Australian wines today are housed under a screw cap and many of these are some of the most loved wines in the world. Put simply, screw caps are the economical and environmentally-conscious alternative to cork. Plus, they completely eliminate the risk of cork taint. In short, don’t avoid a bottle of wine just because it has a screw cap, in fact look for screw caps as it’ll save the extra hassle of finding a corkscrew.
It’s the old adage: never judge a book by its cover. Just as to many things, it applies to wine. Wineries today have upped the game when it comes to their labels. It helps them stand out on the shelves from the tens or hundreds of other wines. But it also means that customers fall for the trap of buying a wine just because of how the label looks rather than what it tells you. Remember to read the wine label before buying, it’ll tell you a lot more about what the wine is going to be like.
Even if you only need one bottle at the moment, why not take the opportunity to save some money — and time — by stocking up. Most places offer a special discount when you buy a case of wine. At Winery.ph, we offer year-round discounts of up to 7% off when you buy any 12 bottles. This means you don’t have to just buy 12 bottles of the same wine, you can mix and match any wines and you’ll get 7% off the total amount. This way, the next time you have a last minute event, you can easily grab a bottle and go rather than rushing to the grocery store.
You’ve bought a wine, opened it, poured a glass, and it’s bad. Whether it's corked, aged, or it has been maderized, you shouldn’t feel you have to just accept it. After all, it's no fault of your own and often not the fault of the store where you bought it from. If you feel the wine has gone bad, let the store know so they can quality check your bottles as well as their own stock. If this ever happens with your order from Winery.ph, our Wine Quality Guarantee ensures that we’ll replace the bottle.