Tips from The Kitchn

One Tiny Tip to Make Wine Shopping Much Less Overwhelming

published Jul 19, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Wine Shelves
Credit: Getty Images/ hidesy

Despite the fact that I took a very rigorous course called Intro to Wines during my senior year of college, I still feel like a rookie whenever I shop for wine. While I generally know what I like, sometimes I resort to simply picking the bottle with the prettiest label and cheapest price tag and head out on my merry way. In my world, happy hour waits for no one.

This year, though, I am determined to take a slightly more elevated approach, thanks to a tip I learned from Kitchn’s Food Editor-at-Large, Christine Gallary, who is decidedly more sophisticated than I am and has more experience in the wine world.

In a recent team brainstorm devoted to all things wine (yes, working here is fun!), Christine pretty much validated all of my wine shopping woes. “I still get overwhelmed when shopping for wine because labels and price are never clear indicators of what the wine will be like,” says Christine.

But she has a tip!

“I learned this back when I worked for a restaurant group in Boston: Once you find a particular wine you like, figure out the name of the distributor or importer (it’s usually printed on the label). Then when shopping for wine in the future, look or ask for wines from that same importer,” says Christine.

Why does this strategy work? According to Christine, “Once you find an importer that you like, chances are very high that their tastes are aligned with yours.” Here’s a starting point: Christine’s go-to importers are Kermit Lynch and Neal Rosenthal. (Who knows, your tastes might be aligned with hers!)

Another great resource? Restaurant bartenders and sommeliers. “If you try a wine at a restaurant that you really enjoy, don’t be afraid to ask who the importer is. They’re usually more than happy to check for you!” says Christine.

This method does take a little trial and error, but think of your next happy hour as a homework assignment and you’ll come away with some fresh new intel.

Do you have any wine importers that you like? Tell us in the comments below!