Something’s got me wondering, so I thought I should just ask:
How do you decide what new wines to try?
And what motivates your decision to try something new? Do you venture out because a tried and true wine is not available? Or are you just adventurous when it comes to wine?
As a wine blogger, a substantial amount of wine ‘magically’ appears in the mail and I’ve been able to try all sorts of wines without much effort on my part. I also get invited to events to try new wines in hopes that I will share them with you, my readers. And often I do just that: I find a wine or two that I have been offered from time to time and I tell you about them, too, so that you can give them a try. (I especially like when I can offer a food pairing, so that’s often why it takes me so long to report back.)
My husband and I are members of one of the Wall Street Journal wine clubs because it sends us an assortment of wines each quarter where we can explore new options without putting a lot of effort into making those decisions on what to buy. We are also members of several winery wine clubs from which we receive quite a supply of tried-and-trues and a few surprises here and there. That balances out the adventure with knowing we always have something on hand we’ll enjoy and feel comfortable sharing with friends.
Years ago, Spec’s, which if you are not from Texas is a pretty massive wine and liquor store here, offered a monthly 12 under $12 feature. Bear Dalton, the fine wine buyer for Spec’s, would select, just as is implied, 12 different wines he felt were great that sold for $12 or less. My husband would often buy many (if not all) of the selections most months and we explored new flavors together. Some we loved and some, well, we didn’t love. But we gambled that Bear’s picks would be good and, if not, $12 (or less) wasn’t too much to risk on a bottle. We loved this program but, unfortunately, Spec’s discontinued it.
Now that I’ve been drinking more wine for more years, I have a decent idea of what I like, but I’m still often puzzled by a new wine. At a restaurant I often wonder if I can trust the waiter or bartender’s suggestion because, well, he or she doesn’t know my tastebuds and I almost always wonder if a suggestion comes with another motivation other than just serving me a wine that will delight. (Are there any secret contests really going on or is there a wine that needs to be unloaded for some reason?) Often I’ll ask for a taste of two wines, if I cannot find one I immediately know I’ll enjoy, and I’ll make a decision from that.
Other than the mixed case we receive in the mail, when it is our money being spent on trying new wines, I’m more adventurous in a restaurant or bar where I can have a taste before jumping in to a whole bottle, than I am in a retail store, where I have little to go on about a wine other than scores by a critic which don’t take my palate into account.
(On a side note, that’s one of the reasons I like Max’s Wine Dive and the Tasting Room so much. I can taste, find what I like, enjoy the wine while out and then purchase more bottles to take home and enjoy later.)
So what about you? What leads you to try a new wine? And are you more adventurous at the store or at a restaurant? I’d love to hear your thoughts.