We have all been there. Entering a wine store and looking for the right bottle of wine for you out of several hundreds can be daunting. Worse still, if you have kids with you, it always seems like they will break something if you stay in the store long enough! Well, it’s alright, the expensive bottles are almost always kept safely in the cellar or displayed on the highest shelf and the kids won’t break them… we hope. Apart from the challenge of managing the kids, the many different labels from many different regions can be intimidating for those relatively new to the wine drinking business. How then should you go about shopping for the right bottle? Here are the few things you should look out for when you walk into a wine store:

 

Firstly, if you know what you are looking for, ask the salesperson to simply direct you to the right section. Champagnes are usually kept apart from the red and white wines. Similarly, the dessert wines are probably placed away from the rest of the wines. If you are looking for a particular vintage or an exceptional premium bottle, don’t give up if you don’t see it right away! It may be stored safely in a wine chiller at the back of the store.

When you pick up the bottle, these are the five important things you should be looking out for on the label:

  1. Brand.
  2. Region.
  3. Varietal.
  4. Vintage.
  5. Alcohol by volume.

All these matter in the selection of wine. An established brand or a world famous vineyard matter less if the vintage was particularly bad due to a terrible season and consequently, a terrible harvest. In some cases, heavy rain during the harvesting of grapes resulted in grapes that swelled with water, diluting the quality of wine. Likewise, if you are set on a particular variety, say, Cabernet Sauvignon, notable regions include Bordeaux in France, Tuscany in Italy, and Napa Valley in the US. According to the California Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage Chart, 2001, 2002 and 2007 gave the highest rated vintages so choose these bottles instead,

Tip: If you are still unsure, download the Vivino Wine Scanner app on your phone! You can take a photo of any wine label or search by wine and instantly see wine ratings, reviews, average price, tasting notes and food pairings for the particular bottle. Don’t be taken aback by the difference between the average price and the retail price. Here in Singapore, the insane alcohol tax and the shipping fees add up.  

 

Lastly, If you are considering buying a gift for your boss (bless), a good friend or a close family member, do not head for the largest, most impressive, most aesthetically pleasing, or worse, most expensive bottle! Consider the personality and character of the recipient and then choose the bottle which best fits him/her. We are very sure that the recipient will appreciate your sincerity and thoughtfulness in choosing the right bottle for them. Do they prefer champagne, prosecco, red or white wine?


If you choose a red wine, you will still have to choose between lighter options such as Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Merlot and heavier, full-bodied wines such as Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. If you choose a white wine, light, refreshing and fruity wines include Moscato, Pinot Grigio and Chenin Blanc while Chardonnay lies on the opposite end of the spectrum.

 

There you go! Walk in with your shoulders and head held high next time. You are ready for wine shopping now! 😊