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.


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.


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!


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 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 own 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!


How Does A Vineyard’s Region Affect A Wine?

Great wines start with great grapes from great places. With substandard raw ingredients, there is no way to produce anything other than a substandard wine. This being the case, there are a few specific conditions, which make grape growing impeccable. Let’s take a look at these conditions and what other influences different regions have on their wines.


Vineyards, more importantly the grapes in those vineyards, need a certain set of conditions to grow optimally. These conditions include a cool breeze off the ocean, infrequent rainfall, rocky soil for good draining, and plenty of sunshine. This is one of the reasons you will hear wine experts talking about a good vintage year due to the seasonal conditions, because ultimately, the body and taste of the wines are based on the conditions the grapes are grown in.

The combination of land, seasonal weather and soil used to produce wines, even has a French designation – terroir. Pronounced [tear-wah], this term is the origin of the word terrain. While you can have the same type of wine, Pinot Noir for example, from three different regions – New Zealand, Burgundy, and California – you can expect to have three different tastes due to the terrain in which the grapes grow.

Regional Differences

How did the community you grew up in shape and mold who you are today? Your appearance, accent, and palate were formed by your exposure to your community, or region, as it were. The same is true for grapes and wine. Each region has people with different techniques for growing grapes and producing wine, usually passed down from generation to generation.

Take, for instance, Champagne. This sparkling beverage was originally produced in Champagne, France with special grapes and innovative techniques. The only true “Champagne” is from this region in France. Any other bubbly wine is actually Sparkling Wine and must be labeled so. This is a case where a community took such pride in protecting the land and developing the traditions used in their specific form of wine making, that no other sparkling wine may be labeled Champagne.

Proud Regions

Since each region has climate differences and commitments to tradition, it’s easy to study the grapes and growing conditions for each region to make categorizations about exactly what regions can produce certain types of wine.

An example is Port from Portugal, where the growers have been producing fortified vineyards for centuries. The region Port comes from, in Douro, has extremely rocky soil with desert like conditions. Port is only made by humans stomping the grapes, which adds to the uniqueness and allows only wine from that region to be called Port.

The regional impact on wines makes a big difference in how a wine tastes and feels. Knowing the conditions the grapes were grown in, how they were processed, and the time-honored traditions of the vintners, allow the consumer to know exactly what to expect with each type of wine. Know the region and know the wine!


Time To Try A New Wine

When we fall in love with a particular wine, we often are hesitant to try anything else. This is a pity, as this attitude closes the door to all sorts of new tastes and experiences. If you’re buying the same bottle of wine every time you shop – stop – look around – and consider trying something new and exciting.

Start by shopping lesser known regions. Many wine regions are becoming better known and have very nice wines at reasonable prices. Spain, Australia, Argentina and Chile are just a few that come to mind. If you always buy Italian or French, take a stroll over to these other regions and indulge in what could be a very pleasant surprise. Don’t forget the lesser known American wine regions, as well. Many fine wines are being produced outside of California!

Expand your horizon by trying wine from areas just beyond a well known wine growing region. Instead of an expensive Pomerol in Bordeaux, try Lalande-de-Pomerol. This wine is actually made from the same grape (Merlot) but grown just outside the region and is typically available at a much lower price.

Look for the “second labels” of more established wineries. These are quality wines sold under a different label at a lower price, a practice quite common in Bordeaux and gaining popularity in California. This is similar to a major department store having their own brand of clothing. The same manufacturers produce them but display a store-brand label and sell at a lower price.

Sometimes palates change, and can do so quite dramatically. A person who normally loves the burly red wines, may start enjoying the lighter, crisper white wines. This would be a good time to reassess your tastes and try totally new wines of all varieties.

Red or White

This is the basic decision that most people make. Choosing red or white wine is pretty much the starting point when looking for new wines for your particular taste. While both wines can offer a “full bodied” taste, it is important to understand the basic differences between red and white wines. Red wines usually have more of a dark fruit taste. These are fruits such as strawberries, cherries, blueberries and even a cranberry flavor component.

White wines have a higher acidity level, rightly so as they usually embody the citrus flavors of lemon, lime and grapefruit. These wines are usually more tropical in their bouquet and have a much lighter persona to them. The white wines also come with a little more “oak” flavor, as they tend to pick up the flavor of the barrel they were aged in.

Dry or Sweet

Dry and sweet are two categories of “mouth feel.” The drier the wine, the more tannin it has in it, usually. These tannic blends are usually a bit bitter at first, but are cut by the acidity of the wine, or are mellowed by the alcohol. Wines with a higher tannin content are better when left to sit and age, as the tannins will begin to fade after a while, becoming incorporated into the wine.

Sweet wines, on the other hand, can have a bit more sugar aspect to them. These wines leave the palate wet and usually ready for food. Higher sugar content will give the “nose” of the wine a bit more of a bite, but typically balances out with the flavor of the fruits.

Hot or Cold – Alcohol

While it would seem these two designations are based on the temperature the wine is served, this is not the case for this discussion. Hot and cold wines refer to the alcohol content in the wine. Typically done by volumetric ratios, hot wines will have alcohol content above the 12.5% level. The cooler wines will be below this, even down into the 9% range.

If you are struggling trying to choose a new wine, start by making the basic decisions first about whether you want red or white, dry or sweet, and then hot or cold. Once you have those factors in mind, ask your local wine shop expert for suggestions. Take a chance on an unfamiliar wine and surprise your palate!


How To Correctly Read A Wine List

If you relax and don’t stress out over it, a restaurant wine list can be easy, even fun, to read. Even the most complicated wine list can be easily read when you know how most are organized. The wine list or ‘menu’ is typically broken down into sections, and possibly by classifications of wine.

No matter how the wine list is organized, there should be basic points covered, such as an item number, name of the wine, vintage and sometimes a brief description of how the wine tastes.

Let’s take a look at some of the possible ways in which a wine list can be organized to help familiarize you with typical wine lists.

Standard Categorization

A typical categorization of wines on a wine list is by type; Champagne, sparkling wine, white wines, red wines, and dessert wines. Sometimes the reds and whites are divided between sweet and dry, but this isn’t always the case.

Further subdivisions could be by country or region, especially as applied to red and white wines. You may see, for instance, classifications for Italy, Germany, France, California, New Zealand, Washington State, or Oregon State.

Progressive Lists

While every wine list is categorized in some form, there are modern, wine-conscious restaurants which display their wines with more of a neo-style list. This type of wine list may have wines within a category additionally listed in order of specific characteristics of the wine, generally from lightest to boldest.

Categories of wines by variety or region may be excluded entirely by a restaurant in favor of a list developed solely by taste and characteristics. You will see categories with descriptors suggesting a wine is “Fresh and Crisp” or “Full-bodied and Serious.”

Wine List Basics

If a restaurant prides itself on their wines, they will more likely provide more information about the wine they have in their cellars. These menus will have a bin number, also called an item number, which refers to the location of the bottle of wine in the cellar. This information is more for the waiter than for you, but it does look very fancy, indeed, conjuring up images of a big, dark wine cellar full of classic vintage wines.

Every wine list should include the name of each wine. This is not to be confused with the different varieties of wine. This is the name of the vineyard where the grapes are grown and the wine is bottled. This could be as simple as Coturri, or as elegant as Chateau Montelena. By displaying the name of the wine, you know exactly which winery is represented by each wine.

The vintage tells you which type of grape is used in making the wine. If the wine is a blend of several years, the menu may denote a NV, for non-vintage. Other notations are VV, which means the wine vintages change each year. Descriptions are usually only present if there are fewer wines on the menu, but you may find a couple descriptors after the variety of wine even on longer wine lists.

As you can see, a wine list or menu offers basic information to help you make your decision. Recognizing how a wine list is organized should save you some distress and you should now be feeling a bit more relaxed. Next time you go to a nice restaurant, ask to see the wine list and have fun ordering!


Choosing A Wine For Ham Or Turkey – Tricky Pairings

Holiday meals are special occasions which usually call for a festive bottle of wine. Traditional holiday meals often include either ham or turkey, which causes some debate, and confusion, over what wine should be served.

Pairing wines with these two main dishes can be a little tricky. Let’s take a look at these holiday meals and see if we can break them down and determine which wines would pair well.

Ham – Glazed or Smoked

Many holiday hams are cooked using a heavy sauce of some sort, glazed to form a crispy crust, which makes them sweet to the taste. There are also hams with more of a smoky flavor, the type that are cured and aged. In general, the heavier flavors of a glazed ham should be paired with a wine that has higher acidity levels, such as a Riesling, or a simple White Zinfandel. Lighter hams, those that have a smoky flavor usually go well with a Pinot Noir or a Vouvray.

The reasons these different flavors go well together is that the meal becomes more balanced. The acidity of the Riesling will help cut through the sweet, sugary flavor of the glazed hams, while the fruity undertones of the Pinot Noir will help taper off the smoky flavor of the cured or smoky ham. Heavier wines will drown out the flavors of the ham by overpowering them with either heat from the alcohol or too much pizzazz from the rich flavors.

Turkey – White or Dark

The white meat of a turkey has a drier texture than dark meat. In order to balance out the texture of white meat, it would not be wise to serve a dry wine as this would not help to quench that need for moisture. Sweeter wines are generally the go-to for white meat as they force the palate to salivate. Any light, sweet wine will do. You may wish to try a sweet German wine.

Dark meat of a turkey retains more moisture when cooking. Because it is a more tender, juicy meat, it pairs well with a drier wine which helps cleanse the palate. Wines like Riesling and White Burgundy have a dry, oakey flavor that pairs well. You may want to try a Gewurztraminer which will also pair well with dark meat.

Let Common Sense Prevail

The most important thing to remember when selecting wines for a party is to know your guests. What do they prefer? Having a variety of wines available for your guests to choose from may be the simplest answer.

Sample a few different types of wine a few weeks before the big event. While wines can help enhance the experience of a meal, it all comes down to individual tastes. Stop worrying about the wine and enjoy the company!


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.


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.


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!