Once you’ve decided what wine you like, you need to buy more of it. Although wine choices were once very limited, and still are in some states, in most areas, choices have multiplied, and expand daily as restrictive laws fall to lawsuits or change to reflect today’s attitudes and to increase tax revenues.
The old-time wine store—and it’s modern counterpart—remains one of the best places to buy wines. Clerks in these stores tend to be knowledgeable about wine, and if you become a regular, they can learn more about your tastes and help steer you to wines you’ll likely enjoy. Many shops now offer classes, wine tastings, and other events, and some will even order special wines and ship and deliver them to your home.
In many states, you can buy wine in supermarkets, giant discounters, club stores, discount wine and liquor outlets, and even convenience stores. And they’re not just selling basic wine, either. Costco has emerged as one of the nation’s largest retailers of fine wines including some that cost hundreds of dollars a bottle.
With falling barriers to interstate shipping of wine, direct purchases from wineries are making more and more sense. While it hardly pays to buy widely distributed wines direct from the wineries and pay shipping when you can buy the same wine at a neighborhood store, often for less, it is often the case that the only place to get some wines is from the winery. This includes special bottles from big producers, including library wines and limited production bottlings.
For these wines, the most fun of all is to visit the winery, where you can taste before buying. As wineries spring up all over the country, that may not require a trip to Napa Valley.Many wineries also sell directly over the Internet, by brochure or mail, or by phone, and many independent firms sell wines from many producers as well.
If you’re especially fond of certain wineries’ wines, it can be fun to sign up for their wine clubs. They typically send a few bottles to members a few times a year, generally at a discount, and often including wines not available except to club members or at the winery. Most wine clubs have special events, too, often at the wineries but some in other locations.
Whatever you do, don’t forget the wine once it’s in your cellar. While some wines improve with age, most don’t.