How to Buy Wine

Spoilt for choice: your typical wine retail shelf

© shutterstock

Spoilt for choice: your typical wine retail shelf

Spoilt for choice: your typical wine retail shelf

© shutterstock

Our little corner of the universe is currently divided into 195 countries across seven continents, interwoven by a myriad of cultures, languages and traditions. Imagine trying to listen to every song ever created in these countries; there´s over 70 million recorded alone, with dozens more created and recorded every day. Life can be a journey of endless discovery. But it requires more than a little effort to leave our comfort zones often enough to realise this.

Classic gravitation

In the world of wine, we tend to gravitate towards these comfort zones quite naturally; our favourite regions and styles become our benchmarks, our context to make sense of it all. Even the most adventurous of us tend to find that our focus narrows over time, and it´s not unusual to see wine collections that focus almost entirely on a single region, Burgundy, or Champagne, for example. Whilst this is inevitable, and actually very lovely, the tendency then is to stay there and rarely venture out. This is where we start to lose something important.

Truly remarkable wines

If you do poke your head above the parapet, you´ll find some truly remarkable wines being made across the world and in an increasingly diverse range of styles. Many of these have been made for decades but have flown well beneath the radar. If you were never a fan of the power and weight of Nebbiolo in the Langhe, the delicacy and alpine freshness of Alto Piemonte may be the same revelation to you as it was to me. Anyone drinking Spanish wine over the last decade has been treated to perhaps the most exciting, recent shifts in dynamic in the entire world of wine; from the green slopes of Ribeira Sacra to the baked earth of Castilla La Mancha. The islands of Greece are alive with the music of wine-making and for the first time, you no longer have to go on holiday to track down the best producers.

Twos or threes

If I could give a single piece of advice to anyone beginning their descent into the glorious, rabbit-hole of wine it would be this; don't buy it by the case. Naturally, this is not an opinion that´s going to make me very popular with producers or distributors. Committing to twelve bottles of a single wine from a single producer, from a single vintage is extremely limiting; even a half case of six bottles is likely to be both expensive and space consuming. Buy bottles individually, or in twos or threes at most. Try as much as you possibly can, from as many different regions that you´ve not explored, as well as different producers from the regions that you know and love. You will find the producers you can´t live without, and when you do, go deep on their wines. Stock up. Yet never lose the sense of adventure that brought you to them in the first place. It might be a little corner of the universe but for us, it´s a big, beautiful world out there, with so much more to be discovered.

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