How to buy and/or choose wine.
Purchase in wine-shop
For a wine passionate, nothing is more satisfying than buying one or more refined bottles. A wine shop is a place meant for wine trade and the wines it exposes in its shelves can excite and satisfy any motivated consumer’s curiosity and knowledge.
For those who love to buy and to taste new wines, buying a valuable bottle in a highly specialized shop is exciting as nothing else. It comes to be a real ritual whose exercise reinforces passion and technical competence. Few sensations, for wine lovers, equal those ones given by the pleasure of looking at so many bottles, all perfectly new, ordered and polished, all brilliant in the splendour of their individual label, all of them carrying territoriality, human stories and different operational traditions.
Wine shops offer the great advantage of a selective but wide list of different producers, as well as the availability of differentiated vintages and price ranges for the same wine, as also the opportunity to purchase a single bottle of each selected wine, for a greater diversity. Even more significant, wine shops offer professional knowledge and experience, thanks to operators able to give advice, guidelines and recommendations, satisfying any costumer with suggestions regarding each wine’s best interpretation. A wine shop and its retailer represent one of the most important reference point for any wine enthusiast, they are person and place where to live, practice and enhance his own wine passion.
Wine retailers are themselves; first of all, great wine enthusiasts, well skilled and always well disposed and willing to donate scientific know-how to their costumers. You shall rely on them, always pondering and technically verifying their guidance’s merit, always prone to enlarge your own set of tasting experiences, always willing to taste new wines from still unknown production realities. Several wine shops organize thematic tastings, meetings with wine producers, classes and work-shops: they all are cultural-recreational activities with a high technical content, proof and confirmation of how places like these are the beating and socializing heart of the practice of loving wine. Contemporary and major wine shops also serve wines by the glass, expanding in such a way the number of wines you will be able to taste before their purchase. Same helpful experience is also allowed by wine-bars, where the tastings of several different wines will be a way to optimize any successive choice and purchase.
If your wine enthusiasm is beginning from scratch, it could be useful to start buying and tasting wines moving from region to region, that is just as those wines are grouped and exposed.
Tasting a wine before its extensive purchase shall be fundamental, as possibly comparing it with other samples of that same wine and vintage, produced by some other winery. For example, buying 6 bottles of a certain Chianti, produced in a certain vintage, first you should taste 4 different Chianti wines for a comparative evaluation and for the best selection. Take note of your tastings and restrict any purchase meant to storage to those wines you personally perceived more pleasant and/ore better related to their price. The number of bottles you shall buy, it is going to depend on your economic means as much as on your personal preference for a certain wine or a certain grape, or productive area.
Talking about storage, the minimum quantity I suggest is 6 bottles for wine, while the 12 bottles case is optimal, allowing that wine’s evaluation over passing time. Always ask your wine retailer for the bottles they keep stored out of sight of your chosen wine: buying bottles that were not exposed out on shelves grants for their maximum integrity.
Purchase from the winery
Who makes wine is wine; producers are soul and spirit of their wines. A certain identification between producers and products exists in all production fields: talking about wine, it is not the same for wine precisely is its man’s substantial and intimate quality. In the previous paragraphs the viticultural and enological qualitative factors that characterize wine have been expressed and described; well, those factors they are all carried out by operating men, it is on men that depends their regulation and maximization. The very central feature in any wine’s quality is its producer: man is the cru.
The best land or the best oenological equipment will not be the worth of a great wine without man’s management. Talk to any valuable wine-man: the word quality will never come out of his mouth. But his heart, it will purely talk about it: quality will be narrated and quality will be shown through his life and work. Nobody better than a wine producer can describe genesis and development, transmitting merits and virtues of a territory, a fruit, a wine. Attention is grabbed, communication is humble and deep, genuine and honest, when a producer talks about his own wine. What an intense motivation for purchase! No other situation can create such a deep consciousness and such a fusion between consumer and product as a trade managed by the producer. A wine bought form its producer, is a wine humanly, scenically and three-dimensionally lived; it is a wine capable of donating, every time it reaches our senses, not only its intrinsic value, but also the emotional surplus that good memories can give (in this regard, see the chapter about wine tourism). Lastly, buying wines from their producers ensures that those wines will be in their best, most intact and genuine conditions, moreover often at the lowest prices (it’s recommendable to call and ask by phone in advance if the winery provides direct sale of wines).
Wine choice in a restaurant
Restaurants and wine retailers own of the best wine-cellars of Italy, with selections among the most representative, updated and valuable ones, that are collected in their sometimes really sumptuously all-encompassing wine lists (in this regard, see the chapter about Italian wine’s Meccas). Many Italian wines have gained fame, becoming known and appreciated by a wide public, thanks to the passion and far-sightedness of those restaurateurs, who have always been giving importance and emphasis to our Italian viticultural production.
The best flavours and meals composers well know how highly wine contributes in making memorable any gastronomic experience; this awareness is what bases their qualitative and active selection. When it is available, reading the wine list in a restaurant is always a useful start for a choice that you will then take according to your personal preference criteria or following the restaurateur and/or sommelier’s recommendations.
Usually listed wines are grouped in regions, typology (withe, rosè, red, sweet, sparkling), grape variety and/or sensorial characteristics (different consistencies and development techniques). As always, two are possible options: you can match your food to the wine you would like to taste, or you can choose for a wine that can better combine with the meal your would like to savour. Whether wine or food turn out to be the discriminating factor, what matters the most is to harmonize the food/wine pairing according some basic rules, as explained in the specialized chapter. A different wine pairing can be realized for each course, expensive but practicable, this is an option to ponder in those restaurants that offer wines by the glass (habit that is getting positively common). Many restaurants offer, as an alternative, tasting menus consisting in a different wine-pairing for each course: menus can definitely be a positive possibility if they do represent their local eno-gastronomic traditional productions. Otherwise, you could choose a single wine that shall match the whole meal. A single wine whose organoleptic features shall harmonize all the following dishes. From this perspective, wines that highly perform are smooth sparkling, white or red ones with a good texture, or those rose wines that are fragrant and wrapping.