Wine stores can be extremely daunting placed for those who are not trained in the art of choosing wine. Wine shops may be intimidating at first glance, with their vast selection and unfamiliar labels, but you needn't be worried.
Consider the wine shop owner, manager, or sales associate your personal shopper with a wealth of information about wine. Most every wine shop associate 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.
Staffing a wine store is an important aspect of the business, and every shop owner knows that. A good wine store will have helpful and caring staff who are knowledgeable about the products they sell.
It is also extremely important to get to know the staff at the wine store as they are generally the ones with the insider knowledge about new wines hitting the market, as we 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. Remember, buying wine should be fun. View it as an adventure for the palate.
Buying wine from a large wine warehouse and 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 wines stores are focused more on their bottom line than on the overall happiness of their customers buying wine.
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. Keep in mind that smaller wines shops, sometimes referred to as boutique wine shops, may not have exactly what your looking for; but a knowledgeable staff should be able to help you find something that is comparable.
You would be better off picking a wine store that has a few hundred wines, personally tasted by the 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.
One of the more fun aspects of finding a decent wine store is to look for a place that schedules events, such as tastings and seminars. These are meant to educate customers and are generally a lot of fun to attend. You will find out more about wines at these events that you will ever learn from other research and who knows, you may even find your own personal wine guide to help pick out the perfect bottle or two, making buying wine even more fun.
An email list is another way to figure out is a wine store is a good bet. Stores with email lists keep up on their customers, which also keeps them in tune with their stock as they are emailing you on a regular basis about new product and specials.
Your decision to wander through a wine store should be an enjoyable experience. If you feel uneasy about purchasing a particular bottle, just ask for help. Most wine stores are there to help you with your decision and want to make sure that they meet your needs and expectations. They want to make buying wine easy for you. They want you to return!
Take a friend, taste a glass of their most current special, relax, ask lots of questions and enjoy your wine buying experience!