Column: Wine buying, simplified |

Column: Wine buying, simplified

JP Lonergan / Special to the Tahoe Daily Tribune
Published Caption: Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Being a passionate wine lover, I cannot stop myself from perusing the wine section of any store or market that happens to cross my path during my travels. Peering from a distance, I nearly always spot patrons unnecessarily agonizing over a wine purchase. Typically this customer’s distress lasts until their inevitable surrender by selecting something like a famous gold-labeled Champagne whose name rhymes with “groove.” It pains me to witness this and, I assure you, it is a common occurrence. You see, I know that with sound advice, that customer should have walked out on budget with a much better bottle of wine.

In a typical consumer vs. megastore confrontation, the outcome rarely favors the customer, primarily due to the lack of attention in these large stores. Nearly every community in America has a local wine merchant that is equipped to guide and advise the consumer on wine purchases at any price point and for all occasions. As an example, I completed and received certification for UCLA’s prestigious Vintage Program. This comprehensive, two-year program covers in part, soils, geology, weather, viticulture, harvest and vinification. We also studied in detail significant wine regions around the globe, including their history and much more. I take seriously my responsibility to provide consumers with enough information to make a better purchase and save them some money in the process. 

So the next time you find yourself in a big warehouse store or supermarket, ask yourself, “Am I really going to benefit by guessing or winging it?”

In general, small owner-operated wine shops are far likelier to have a better selection of wine than your big box locations. Serious wine collectors know this and rarely purchase wine at a supermarket or warehouse store.  For example, I am always seeking small-production artisan-crafted wines for my customers. I just returned from three days in Napa and Sonoma tasting vibrant, spectacular wines that would never see the light of day in these big stores. Based on size alone, they require a mass-produced product to fill their endless storage spaces. Speaking of storage, we have to ask ourselves, “Are these wines that we see stacked to the ceiling being warehoused properly and kept at the proper temperature?” Small- production, hand-crafted wines, on the other hand, are a perfect fit for the small shop and more importantly the avid wine lover.

Before you seek out your local wine professional, a little preparation will go a long way. What is the occasion? How many people will taste? Is the wine being paired with a particular menu? What is your budget? Armed with those answers, I can send you home with exactly what you will need for your special occasion. If you show up at your event on time, on budget with a perfectly paired astounding wine selection, you’ll end up being the star of the show. As a professional who always roots for my customers, it pains me to see anybody receive less than stellar service. I strongly advise you, the consumer, to resist the temptation of settling for mediocrity while snagging some groceries. Find your local wine merchant or interview them if you’re not sure who to select. Your extra effort will be rewarded with superior wine, ecstatic wine drinkers and a far more rewarding experience.

My store, Apres Wine Company, is located at the new Ski Run Center on the corner of Highway 50 and Ski Run Boulevard. We have over 250 wines from around the globe and at least 50 that are available to taste daily.  Tuesday, June 9th is our next wine tasting event hosted by Diane Guth, of Wine Warehouse, is on the Wines of Italy. Diane, a local wine expert, will educate and enlighten all who attend on the wonders of this historic region. Remember to support your local wine professional and prepare to reap the rewards with your wallet and a much improved wine selection.

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