How to find wonderful wines priced within your budget

Unless you're hosting an extremely important occasion, or you are a wine connoisseur with unlimited funds, high priced wines are typically not considered when most people are shopping for wine.

Many people have the notion that the higher the price, the better the wine. This is simply not the case. Prices may be higher for certain wines simply because of a history of success. For instance, a certain wine may have had an exceedingly good year or two, which makes that vintage very high priced, especially if the vineyard has suffered since with a bad growing season. Scarcity may force the price way up.

That doesn't mean that there are not any good deals on perfectly fine wine. Here are some easy tips tips to find good wine for less money.

Look for critics scores

Many wine critics rate wine before it is bottled. While these score ratings are not the be-all and end-all of wine tasting, they do give a pretty good depiction of how the wine tastes. If you compare more expensive wines with the less expensive bottles, you may find some that are scored around an 88 or 89, a very good wine, while a lower priced wine may actually receive a score in the 92 to 93 range, which is an outstanding wine. So it seems one can't really judge a wine by its price.

Do your research

While the scores are merely a suggestion from a wine critic, it always helps to do your research before you go to the wine store. What kind of wine are you looking for? Is it a Merlot, a Pinot Grigio, or perhaps a Riesling? Learn the regions in which the grapes were grown. What kind of climate did the region have each year? Temperature and humidity have a great effect on the quality of wine from year to year.

Once you have a general idea what type of wine you wish to buy, the scores in that category would be another tool in your research. Now, we just mentioned that scores are only suggestions, but why not try some of the higher scores in the lower price range instead of blindly tasting wine by price alone? There are numerous websites that list the scores for wines, along with their average price. Pick out a few on the list and write the names of the wines down to take along with you to your local wine shop.

Try different vintners

You may have a favorite label, one you turn to time after time, but until you step out of your comfort zone and try other vintners, you will never know if your current favorite is truly the one you enjoy most. More often than not, the less known wine makers, which may be the up and coming stars in the industry, start off with low prices and work their way up each year. Trying smaller vineyards is a great way to save money while picking up the best wines before they become superstars.

What have we learned?

Keeping an open mind is a great way to experience new, fantastic wines while keeping the budget intact. Pay attention to critics scores, but only as a suggestion based on someone's critique, perhaps one you won't agree with. Do your research and delve into the growing conditions of a particular vintage. Try new vintners as well as different locations and years of the same wine. Always ask your wine shop agent to suggest something new within your price range. Normally, your local wine shop will have knowledgeable people trained to help you make a decision about your wine selection and will point you in the direction of exciting new wines to explore.

Start at the bottom shelves at your wine shop and work your way up. You'll never know what treasures you'll uncover until you start digging!

Judging a wine store - What to look for before shopping

Wine stores can be extremely daunting places for those who are not trained in the art of choosing wine. Wine shops may be intimating at first glance, with their vast selection and unfamiliar labels, but you needn't be worried.

Here are some tips and tricks of what to look for in a wine store, as well as how to leverage your wine shop so you get the most out of every shopping trip.

Easy to read signs

Wine stores can be very large buildings with thousands of different wines. For a person not familiar with wine stores, having easy to read signs is a must. These signs will notify you about what types of wines are located within the general vicinity and also if there are any sales going on. These signs should be clearly noticeable from the front door, so you know exactly which direction you need to head. This will help you keep from getting overwhelmed in those first few minutes you walk in the door.

Helpful staff

Consider the wine shop owner, manager, or worker your personal shopper with a wealth of information about wine. Most every wine shop worker I've run into will just about do cartwheels trying to get you to listen to their knowledge of wine. All you have to do is ask, and sit back and be dazzled!

Staffing a wine store is an important aspect of the business, and every shop owner knows that. A good wine store will have a helpful and caring staff of people who are knowledgeable about the products they sell. It is also extremely important to get to know the staff at a wine store as they are generally the ones with the insider knowledge about new wines hitting the market, as well as the deals going on in the store. The staff should be able to translate what you're saying into the wine you are seeking, and then point you in the direction you need to go and step in to offer more help when needed.

Selection

Having a large number of bottles on the floor doesn't always equate to a good selection. Some wine distributors focus on the labels, which move the biggest volume, or are sold to them at the lowest price. These wine stores are focused more on their bottom line than on the overall happiness of their customers. Do your research before you walk into a wine store and print out a list of wines you would like to look for. Take this list with you and see how many of them are stocked at the store.

You would be better off picking a wine store that has a few hundred wines, personally tasted by the knowledgeable staff, than a massive amount that were just drop shipped into the warehouse. The store should give you a sense of comfort with a wide variety of styles and prices. A good wine store should have a well-balanced mix of price ranges for their wines.

Storage

Wine should always be kept below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Wines stored above this temperature begin to age quickly and can oxidize, turning them into undrinkable bottles of wine. Are you a bit chilly inside the store? That's good. That means the the wine is most likely stored properly.

Events and email lists

One of the more fun aspects of finding a decent wine store is to look for a place that schedules events, such as tasting and seminars. These are meant to educate the customers and are generally a lot of fun to attend. You will find out more about wines at these events than you will ever learn from other research.

An email list is another way to figure out if a wine store is a good bet. Stores with email lists keep up with their customers, which also keeps them in tune with their stock as they're emailing you on a regular basis about new product and specials.

By following these simple tips you will be on your way to picking out a great wine store in no time. After that, the fun begins - picking out a great wine!

Tips for purchasing wine online

Sometimes you are not close to the wine store that you love, or even close to a wine store at all. So now, you find yourself surfing the Internet for your wine. The Internet can be a great way to purchase wine. But before you click "buy", there are some simple tips to making your online wine purchase more enjoyable.

Know your source

A large number of wine experts, certified organizations and critics are beginning to rate wine websites. Many wineries are also jumping on the bandwagon. These ratings help buyers feel comfortable with their purchasing decision online. These reviews used to be available only in forums or places where other wine experts met to discuss different options. Today, these ratings are being prominently displayed on websites and can also be accessed by visiting the website of the critic or vineyard, which also list reputable online distributors.

Ask questions

If you are unsure about a certain website, click on 'contact us' and call the number listed. Ask the questions you need in order to feel comfortable. These questions can be anything along the lines of "Do you have a certain type of wine in stock?" or "How do you ship your wines?" and even "What should I do if my wine arrives damaged or wrong all together?"

Asking these questions up front let's you know two things; 1) there is someone on the other side of the computer screen who cares about you and your decisions, and, 2) there are precautions in place to make sure you get exactly what you ordered.

Information

Just like with local wine shops, today's online marketers do much more than sell wine. More often than not, the store has a blog, or at least some place to get more information. Here you can expect to find articles on selecting different types of wines for various occasions and even some sponsors by wine enthusiasts with their top picks. All of this information is there to utilize and help you make the perfect selection for you needs.

Convenience

There are benefits to ordering online such as the ability to shop at a plethora of stores within minutes instead of driving back and forth. You also can shop an unlimited stock of items and do not have to worry about a limited selection in your local wine shop.

The wine is delivered directly to your doorstep, usually packaged in some type of cooling container. This makes sure the wine stays at a proper temperature when it is being shipped.

Wine investors are also at an added advantage for online shopping because they can ensure their purchase for a future date. Basically, they can pay now for a supply that will arrive at a later date, reserving their supply of wine.

With the convenience of buying wine online, and the wide range of varieties, shopping for wine online may be more fun than you think!