5 things to look out for to spot a great bottle

How do you pick out a decent wine?

One of the most intimidating things about choosing a wine can be navigating a website or shop shelves filled with bottles. Labels of every shape and colour, exotic and sometimes downright illegible names and descriptions, and prices ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. How are we supposed to know what we want?!


Most people pick their wine solely based on the appeal of the label, in fact in a survey by Wine.net suggests a gargantuan 82% of people admitted to judging the proverbial ‘book by its cover’ when it comes to wine.

Another failsafe that the budget savvy buyer uses when selecting wine is to choose the second cheapest wine. We’ve all been there, sat in a fancy restaurant starring blankly at the wine list, only to opt for the wine directly underneath ‘House Wine’. You don’t want to go for the cheapest, especially if you’re out to impress a hot date or your in-laws. Neither do you want to opt for the one at the top of the list that you can’t pronounce and costs more than your month’s rent.

Maybe you have found one style or grape that you like and stick to it. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you may be missing out on plenty of other delicious wines. Chances are if you like Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, you’ll love many other styles and varietals. You wouldn’t eat the same meal over and over again, so why drink the same wine?

So how do we spot a great bottle when there’s so much choice out there?

1. Don’t fall into the discount trap.
If you see a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape that is reduced from £26.99 to a tenner, you may well think that you’ve found yourself the bargain of the century. But ask yourself why the price is dramatically lower than the RRP.
Chances are that the wine was not selling at the top price because it isn’t very popular, or the original top price was way over the odds for what’s inside the bottle. Some crafty retailers also get a bit creative with their original retail price to make the discount price look more dramatic and appealing. This isn’t always the case as wines do go on sale to make room for new ones, but try not to get bamboozled by price.
2. Do ask the experts.
If you’re in a restaurant, on a website or in a shop, ask one of the experts. Here at Vintner we love a good chinwag about our wines and thoroughly enjoy helping you find the right wine. You can bet that a professional sommelier or friendly sales assistant will feel the same. If you’re not sure of what you want, the experts will be able to recommend some hidden gems that you maybe would never have considered. Ask them what their favourite wine on the list is and why. Don’t be afraid to ask to taste the wines either. This is a great way of discovering new favourites.
3. Do use wine Apps
There are some great apps that you can download to help you find out what is inside your bottle. From Vivino to Hello Vino and Delectable, you can take a photo of the label and up will pop a bunch of information about the wine, including reviews, so you can get the lowdown before you part with your cash. You can also keep track of your favourite wines and get food pairing tips.
4. Don’t just look for big names
Particularly when it comes to Champagne.
If you have seen your favourite Champagne advertised on a double page spread in a glossy magazine, chances are you - the consumer- will be paying for all that expensive advertising and the fizz in the bottle may not be the best value. Look for smaller Champagne houses who put all of their love and efforts into creating quality wine. You can also buy great supermarket own Champagne which is produced by some of the best names. Sainsburys own Blanc de Blanc used to be produced by excellent Champagne house ‘Duval Leroy’, but only the eagle eyed who checked the back of the label would know that they were drinking Leroy.
5. Do shop with Vintner
It’s our full-time job to find great wines (tough gig, but someone has to do it!) and we've done the hard work so you don’t have to! All our wines have been selected because they are delicious and they spark joy for us. We are trying to bring you delicious wine that you can enjoy wherever and with whomever. No dodgy wine. No inflated prices. Just delicious wine for all.
View our selection of red wine, white wine, rosé wine and sparkling wine here.

Written by Daniella Santangeli