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Written by Nikitas Magel   

The Pitfall of Tracking Down Wines

One thing I'd noticed quite frequently during my stint in wine retail, and continue to overhear as a customer in wine shops, is the very specific request for a particular wine: "Do you have the so-and-so wine by the so-and-so producer?"  Oftentimes, a consumer experiences a wine as a patron in a restaurant or as a guest in someone's home, and soon thereafter embarks on a mission to find that very same wine.  Have you ever done that?  Have you ever had a really great wine somewhere, committed the label name to memory, and then decided you absolutely had to find it the next time you happened upon a wineshop?  Well, stop it. You're wasting your time and energy.

Chasing after a wine label is, frankly, fruitless (pun intended).  There are a couple of reasons for this.  First off, if the wine was truly that special, then chances are that it wasn't produced in nearly enough quantity to be easily found at your neighborhood wine merchant.  Conversely, if you can easily find that wine, then it's very likely to be a mass-produced, mediocre variant for which it's simply not necessary to go searching; it'll leap out at you from the fluorescent-lit, dusty stock shelves of a corner liquor store or supermarket.  Secondly, and most importantly, wine is not a manufactured commodity that a company cranks out based on a unique, proprietary recipe — like Coke or Pepsi.  It's an agricultural product. And being so, a truly good example is made in modest quantity with an artisanal approach that results in a wine of unique personality and character.

A far more effective approach in finding wines you like is to pay attention especially to the grape varietal(s) in the case of New World wines (the Americas and Australia), or the region in the case of European wines.  Ideally, if you can remember or write down both types of information on a wine you've had and really enjoyed, then the next time you walk into a wine shop, you're that much more likely to find a wine that (although by a different producer) will have very similar qualities.  In fact, wine merchants love to be approached with just enough information to make a recommendation or two that you're apt to enjoy.  And, what's more, is that you're learning more about what you like in wine, without having to launch into the often difficult task of describing flavor to a store clerk who's trying to help you.

Wine is really not that hard to understand.  It just takes some time.  But you can have a lot of fun in the process.  Sure, it can be a gamble; after all, you never truly know what you're going to get from a bottle unless you've bought it before.  And some people prefer not to take risks with wine, and only want more of what they know they'll like.  But guess what? (and here's where I get a little existential and a teensy bit preachy): getting the most out of life means taking calculated risks.  You just may end up having an experience that'll change the trajectory of your wine journey… hey, it happens to even the most experienced palates! end

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dvds on wine