From time to time, I get asked, "How do you select a bottle of wine from the shelves with so many to choose from?" I can't say that I have found a concrete formula, but I do tend to do a few things that invariably make me happy.
The first and possibly most important thing is the year. Most supermarket options are intended for immediate consumption. Wines are not always intended to be stored and put down for a rainy day. I know there are some who may argue that it's too young and think they should let it age more at home. I disagree.
The winemaker already put it through a period of ageing to get it to this point, and keeping it at home doesn't exactly change anything. In fact, more than likely, it will start the breaking-down process.
The second most important thing is to shy away from what you know and try something new. Wine is more than one varietal, or one brand. Explore a little. You might be surprised as to what would really open up your palate. I know that, for new or discovering wine drinkers, the easy, fail-safe option is what you already know, and for many that might be Yellow Tail, which I am not objecting to. But there is so much more on the market equally capable of meeting - if not exceeding - your palate's expectations.
The idea is to explore different regions. Far too often, we get fixated on one particular region and opt to stick to it - for example, Californian wines. Don't get me wrong, California makes great wines, lots of which I enjoy. But sticking to one region doesn't allow you to broaden your wine-drinking experience. Every now and again when my wine club meets, we do comparisons of the same varietal (meaning type of grape), but from different regions. You might be surprised at how a Merlot or a Chardonnay may vary from region to region.
And finally, move outside your comfort zone. I know you may have started liking a particular varietal, but mix it up. So if Moscato is what you like, still try a Pinot Grigio for a change. It is very different in taste and profile, but you never know if you will like it until you try it.
Wine is an exploratory process - a journey worth being enjoyed. So I issue a challenge to you: When next you are at the supermarket, try something new. Take a pic and send me an email as to what you think, and let's talk wine!
I am not an expert, merely a wine enthusiast sharing my thoughts and experiences. Feel free to share your own experiences at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share your wine experiences with us at email@example.com