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Five tips for choosing a kick arse wine at the bottle shop

Australians love a good drop. At last count, we knock back around 460 million litres of it a year, which pretty much guarantees that at some point in the next year,you'll find yourself staring at racks in Dan Murphy's with analysis paralysis

Tips on navigating a wine shop

There's plenty of tricks that bottle shops use to get you to choose a certain wine, too.  Placement on shelves, gold label stickers, massive discounts, fancy names for wine that really should belong in a cask and not in a bottle. Luckily, you're smart and discerning and you read this blog, so you will not be fooled by such trickery.

Find a good bottle of wine is EASY. Just follow the rules of the smart wine buyer: 

1. Choose the right shop.

The big bottle shops are everywhere.  They're convenient, and the way they're laid out makes it seem like you're getting a bargain.  But did you know many independent wine stores charge around the same for good bottles?

Seeking them out is step one, and they're not just places for collectors or wine snobs. 
Going to a well curated local wine shop will increase your chance of finding a fantastic wine. How?

They have the added benefit of stocking the wines from more artisan wine makers that don't, or can't produce the volume of wine that the big chains need. Plus, you're supporting your local economy, so you'll have a warm glow that lasts beyond the bottle of Shiraz.

2. Talk to the staff.

So often this can be then fast track to satisfaction. People working in a wine shop are almost always genuinely excited about what's surrounding them. Nothing would make their day better then talking about the differences between the Barossa and Margaret River and why you should match Riesling with your Oysters.

3. Don't get hung up on price.

Wine might be the greatest physical expression of the old adage, "you get what you pay for". We all want that amazing bottle for under $20, and they do exist, albeit very rarely. Take it from an insider, there is a chasm in quality between $20 and $25. Sacrifice 1 coffee a week and put that $5 towards a slightly higher priced bottle and you'll see exactly what I mean.  Be brave and tip over the edge into $30 and you'll really be in business. 

4. Plan ahead.

Give yourself some time to browse. A snap decision made on the spot could lead to regret later. It's always better to have a few minutes to browse the shop, talk with the staff and consider the occasion properly. 
It is dinner? If so, what's the cuisine? Do you know what matches with that?
Sauvignon Blanc doesn't go with everything.  There is a big difference between the right wine for a pool party lunch with friends and one for an romantic dinner for two.

5. Why play it safe?

Easy and safe feels comfortable, sure. You might feel secure selecting a Barossa Shiraz with three gold stars on it, or a NZ Savvy that looks like you've seen the label before. Remember those tricks we mentioned up top? There are as many wines as there are stars in the sky, so why are you always looking at the sun?  Every once in a while, try a variety that's new or a wine from a place you're not familiar with. How great is that feeling of awe when you're blown away by something new you've uncovered?

The most important step of all? Relax!  It's wine not brain surgery. Follow these steps you should nail it. But if you miss the mark, chalk it up to experience. If you're like us, chances are you'll have the chance to do it all again real soon. And that means you're closer to that slurpingly good bottle.  


photo credit: Wine Republic

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