Mind your Ps when it comes to buying wine

November 21, 2023

A friend of mine received a call unexpectedly the other day from a company from which he had previously purchased a very acceptable cabernet sauvignon. He was seduced by a sales patter for a sauvignon blanc which he was assured was a 'bargain' and 'remarkable for the price', 'I don’t think it tastes like what I was told', he says. He was right. He was sold a dud.

There are plenty of pitfalls when it comes to buying any wine you have not tasted whether that purchase be over the phone, through a wine club, or buying cleanskins at a local bottle shop. The blurb may well say 'RRP $40' or 'worth $50 a bottle' - but these wines are usually not sold in retail stores and are sold under labels you may never see again.

Also beware of cleanskins (wines with no labels and no label info) and make sure you buy bottles from the same case as the wine you have tasted comes from. One box of $4.99 a bottle cabernet in an unopened box may be quite different to the delicious wine you have just tried. Smoke and mirrors.

Just remember that there is plenty of cheap fruit on the market. Anyone can bottle up a batch under flashy label and make outrageous claims about a 'failed export order' or 'the biggest bargain of the year'. Try before you buy or choose wines that have been recommended by someone you trust. It is a wine jungle out there and you don’t want to be the one who gets eaten alive. Make sure, too, that you have a few reserve bottles on hand for later in the day, when everyone has enjoyed the big Christmas feast. You do not want to have to open your carefully cellared bottles of The Visionary or The Pioneer because you have run out of wine and the bottle store is closed. Put you best cellared wines under lock and key unless you are ready to share them.

And remember to give all your guests the options of plenty of water. It is easy to drink too much on a warm day when everyone is relaxed and celebrating. Keeping both yourself and your guests hydrated is important.

Follow Winsor Dobbin at www.gourmetontheroad.com.