1. Try an app
Wine-centered apps allow you to crowdsource ratings, opinions, and descriptions with one of these wine-dedicated apps.
Delectable allows you to snap a pic of your label and immediately access ratings and reviews from wine consumers all over the world. But read critically--anyone can comment and many people may not have the same tastes as you. You can keep track of bottles you like or don't like and make notes not only for yourself, but also for others to read. What's really great about Delectable: there are tons of wine makers and critics on the app that you can follow to find out what they're drinking!
Vivino is the same idea as Delectable, but boasting a larger user-base.
Plonk is designed for the novice as it provides a guide to grape varietals and wine styles. It also boasts an audio feature that teaches you how to pronounce the name of the wine and offers food-pairing suggestions.
2. Find a store you trust
While the grocery store is certainly convenient, you're not going to find the selection or the expertise your neighborhood wine shop offers. Make the extra trip, it's definitely worth it.
3. Don't be afraid to ask
Wine is super complex--there's no shame in turning to someone who spends more time on the subject for guidance.
According to Marissa A. Ross from Bon Appetit, these are the five questions you should ask:
1) "What's like (fill in a wine you know and like)?" This is a good starting point for trying different wines. You can show them the label from the bottle you had at dinner, ask for a recommendation for a specific variety, like Merlot, or just use descriptors like "red" or "fruity" or "dry."
2) "What goes well with _____?" This is a great way to branch out and try something different than that Pinot Grigio you always grab at the super market. Asking the clerk to pair what you'll be drinking with a specific taste or flavor or dish will definitely lead to a more enjoyable experience.
3) "What are you drinking?" Since wine is literally their job, your wine store clerk will have tasted many of the wines on the shelves of their store. If you pair this question with descriptors of tastes you tend to like or what you're having for dinner, you're sure to end up with a winner.
4) "What do you like in this price range?" Nothing's worse than having an excellent bottle of wine suggested....and it's way out of your price range. Always let the clerk know what price point you're looking to hit.
And for the most adventurous:
5) "What's new?"
Read more from Marissa here.
4. Know your importer
Another suggestion from Marissa: once you find a bottle of wine you like, check the back of the label to see who imported the wine. If you find an importer you trust, you'll likely open up a whole new world of different styles and tastes. Importers don't bring in just one type or style, they handpick all types of wines they deem delicious to put in stores.
Read more here.
5. Try everything
You don't know what you like or don't like until you've tried it. Everyone's palate is different, so only taking suggestions from that one friend who drinks a lot of wine won't necessarily vibe with your tastes.
SHARE with your novice wine buddies and learn together (everyone needs a drinking buddy)!