How to Spot a Good Wine Store

When you’re not making your own wine and shopping Adventures in Homebrewing for all your homebrew needs, you’re likely out looking for inspiration and new wine adventures from your local wine store. Note the emphasis on local – most often our favorite wine store or liquor store is the closest one to our house or work. You’ve probably not thought much about it because of the convenience, but is it really the BEST wine store you could be taking your business? “Best” of course is relative and open to opinions, but there are a few common elements of wine stores that serve as good indications to their wine knowledge and professionalism.
wine bottles in wine store
Aesthetically Pleasing
What is the first impression that your wine store gives off? Sleek, clean, and well organized? Or cluttered and chaotic? Be sure to pay attention to the details while you’re browsing – are things easy to find and well-labeled? Are the bottles dusty? Is the selection past its sell-by date? Are bottles being stored properly? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it may be time to take a second look at where you’re shopping.
A good wine store is clean and well-organized – you want to feel good about shopping there and the owner should want to create an environment that encourages customers to stay and browse. Wine should be stored properly, out of direct heat or sunlight, and organized by region, type, etc. (some even by taste!) to help you easily find what you’re looking for.
Decent Selection
Do they have at least one of each type of wine from each region? Is it only box wine and wine coolers? Did you just now realize your favorite wine stores doesn’t have a bottle over $30? The various types and styles of wine are seemingly endless, so no store will ever be able to stock them all, but it is beneficial to both shop owner and consumer that they offer an array of options at different price points. The best curated stores have hand-picked selections that will make the dedicated customer or casual shopper satisfied with their purchase, regardless of the wine occasion.
You know you’re shopping at the right place if the owner (or employee) is passionate and knowledgeable about the different labels – being able to make recommendations is key for making happy customers and keeping them coming back. If you don’t remember the last time your local wine store suggested a wine to you, or if you haven’t bought anything that didn’t have a screw top recently, it may be time to find a new place to shop.
Prices for all Shoppers
We all want to be adventurous with our taste in wine and want to be able to afford to do so – it doesn’t have to be difficult to find a great bottle of wine for cheap and your local wine store should help to enable your journey to your next favorite label. VinePair says that if loosen the purse strings and be open to spending $20 or more – you’ll expand your options and find new, better wines to experience.
A good wine store will have a large variety of stock at every price point – they’ll offer loyalty programs, daily or weekly deals, and bulk discounts – excited for their customers to discover new wines. For both customer and owner, it is important to note the distinction between reasonably priced wine and cheap wine.. they are two very different things. There are a vast number of great wines between $15 and $35 and your wine store should help you on your journey to finding your favorites.
Breaks You from Your “Comfort Zone”
Sticking to what you know is comfortable, even if the quality of your go-to wine isn’t great. A good wine store will do things to encourage you to break away from what you know and be open to potentially discovering new tastes. They’ll offer events and wine tastings, bring in experts to talk about how the wines are made and what meals they pair best with, and be a warm/inviting space for shoppers to expand their pallet. Attending wine tastings is fun, insightful, and a great way to find new wine stores. They usually have a bottle discount on the wine their tasting too.
We didn’t set out to bash your local wine store, but rather we wanted to point out some common traits shared by passionate store owners and employees that might make you reconsider your current wine shopping experience. Just because something is local to you does not mean it is the best for you – we want our customers to be educated on how to find good wine and discover their new favorites through amazing tasting and shopping experiences. You are here because of our shared love of wine, and I’m here to help you recreate your newly purchased favorite with all of your winemaking needs.
Happy wine shopping,
Ed Kraus
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.