Purchasing wine is the topic of this part of our wine 101 guide…

Most wine is bought in supermarkets, probably because they’re the easiest and most accessible option. Your first few wine purchases were probably at one, and attracted by low prices and familiar labels, you’ve likely continued to go back for more.

However, the average supermarket doesn’t offer much in terms of range or quality. The country of origin may be different, the labels may be different, even the prices may be slightly different, but the wines rapidly begin to all taste the same. The reason being that more often than not they’re made to the specifications of the supermarkets, who insist on average, middle of the road, risk free recipes.

Wine merchants, whether they be national or regional chains, are a much better option. Wine purchased from these will result in you getting a lot more pleasure for your money. Some of the wines stocked will be the same as in supermarkets but they’ll be outnumbered by higher quality ones. They have substanial buying power which allows them to offer a wide range of wines at prices that compete with supermarkets.

Small independent merchants also have much too offer. They’re the place to go for excellent service and knowledgeable advice. Find out about a wine beyond just reading the label by asking the owner to give you their views on it; they’ll likely be honest as turning you into a regular customer is better for them than making a one-off sale. None of this happens in your local supermarket.

Mail order and the internet are another two wine buying options to consider. They give you access to thousands of wines as opposed to the hundreds you’ll find in a supermarket or wine merchants. Delivery normally takes just a few days and postage charges are more than reasonable. The low cost and wide choices make this an ideal way to buy wine for many.

Another, lesser used, option is to visit the winemakers and buy directly from them. For real wine enthusiasts, there’s no better way; taking in the landscape the grapes were grown in and meeting the people who grew them will tell you much more about a wine than any label or review possibly could. Whether in the Americas, Europe or Australia, it’s common for wine producers to have tasting facilities for visitors. In addition to being able to taste a multitude of wines, it’s also probable that they’ll be available at prices substantially cheaper than retail stores.

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