I’m sure some just prefer to select what they know they’ll like / will be good, but I’ve enjoyed being in a couple wine clubs from a couple shops. Seems to offer a nice variety and includes some wine that I might not have chosen myself. Think this prolly only works if you have a trustworthy shop that offers a wine club.
For the most part, about average (for a small wine shop). As I mentioned up thread: they have a middle aisle of wines that are priced for everyday drinking and they also have some monthly “picks” that are usually a good value as well.
In the area, K&L probably has better prices (due to their size and volume) and more “bargains” to be found.
I absolutely look for the distributor. Never had a wine I didn’t like from Louis/Dressner or Kermit Lynch. Will have to check out your other recommended distributors.
By contrast, I can go to my local high-end grocery store and pick out a bottle of wine for $40 and I’ll generally hate it. So I stopped doing that. I have even had bad experiences in high-end wine stores. For me, it’s the distributor all the way.
In both these cases, Louis/Dressner and Kermit Lynch are the importers of the wine. The back and/or strip label reads “Imported by _______________” (Louis/Dressner and Kermit Lynch, in this case). It may seem like splitting hairs, but “importers,” “distributors,” and “wholesalers” are three different things.
That said, FWIW, I agree completely, and it’s what I have always suggested to my students: check out the importer, and Louis/Dressner and Kermit are two very solid ones to follow.
Importer. My local fancy grocery store has few non-California wines (and most of the California wines are high alcohol fruit bombs). Didn’t recognize any of the importers on their few bottles of French and Italian wines. Took a chance on a $40 bottle of Côtes du Rhône and it was so bad I poured most of it down the sink. I think for $40, you should get a drinkable bottle of wine – maybe not transcendent, but drinkable. That’s when I said I would never buy wine from that grocery store again. The only reason I was at the grocery store looking for a bottle of wine was because I had no wine at home and stopped off after work to pick up some dinner and thought wine would be nice, but unfortunately have learned that at least in my neck of the woods, wine requires pre-planning (as in drive across town to a wine store that I know carries the importers I like).
i suffer no delusions about the general quality of California Central Valley wine grapes compared with those of ‘better’ origin but that article gives zero information as to the specific origin of the fruit they’ll use in Stewart’s product. Most likely it’ll be lower-end or bulk quality product but that doesn’t necessarily follow and, without any pricing info, there’s no way to know if there’s a consumer value in the product.
I was once told that the average retail price of a bottle of wine in the US is around $5-$6. To me that means there are a hell of a lot of people who are happy drinking lower end wine. Certainly Trader Joe’s more than priced that with Charles Shaw. So… I get the issue that Martha Stewart is supposed to be a quality brand, but it is also supposed to be a value brand. Shouldn’t we try the wine before concluding that it MUST be garbage? Anyway… lots of people LIKE garbage wine.
Of course there’s more bottle variance in lower level wine. Actually I didn’t read anything in that piece that would tell me WHAT level the wine might be at other than the production sourcing revealed and a presumption about that kind of marketing.
I hope you don’t mind me linking your reply here. I’m a thread reviver and this thread seemed applicable. I’ve been wanting to ask a few questions or have a discussion about wine, but don’t want to alarm the off-topic police and everyone else by going on about non-related subjects.
I really like champagne & sparklings, but have not enjoyed other wines as much. 1) I don’t like a lot of it, because there’s so much out there and I don’t always choose well 2) It’s complicated and I never know what I’m supposed to be looking for when I drink it. 3) It seems too late in the game to try to makeup for ignoring it all these years. Where to start? 4) It seems like an expensive habit. I mean how do you really learn about wineries without going to them?
With that said, a curious thing is happening. Since I’ve been getting into drinking sake more it’s making me curious about and wanting to enjoy wine a bit more. I’m a sake novice and still have to google like crazy (which is why I’m slow on reporting about it @beefnoguy ) but for some reason I get it more and am able to pick up the nuances, flavors, aromas and enjoy the previously baffling act of food pairing. Some of the sake tasting notes and descriptions mention wines, like Chenin Blanc and possibly Reisling, which makes me even more curious about wine tasting. I think it helped me pay attention and enjoy the wine pairing at Majordomo in DTLA. But I know those wines were only the tip of the iceberg and there is more superior product out there to discover.
Anyway, back to Rieslings. Your post is really helpful. Thanks for mentioning best regions for certain wines. That seems like a good start. Dry Rieslings are something I’ve been seeing (or just noticing) mentioned on the board recently. I tend to like sweeter wines, but when I say that people try to push a sweet Riesling or dessert wine on me. That’s not what I mean - I’m talking about less dry, tart, acidic (astringent?) and more subtle, crisp, hints of fruits or reds with cherry, chocolates, peppery notes.
My wife’s favorite wines right now are bone dry old world Rieslings. Mainly Austria and Germany. Very good value in Austria. I don’t know how to pick them either.
We go once a month or so to Hi Times. We take pictures of wines at restaurants we’ve ordered and enjoyed. The staff there is very knowledgeable and they remember us now. It’s been a great resource to ask experts about wines if you don’t know how to pick.
Definitely never too late to get into the “game.” I’ve only been interested in wine for about 18 months and while there is TONS out there, in a short period of time you can learn enough to at least be decent at picking a wine off the shelf. Even then, there are constantly going to be surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant. You learn much the same way as you learn about any other kind of food. Read articles online, follow the wine equivalent of FTC (Wineberserkers is pretty good), try out bottles at K&L, Winehouse, etc., go to tastings, talk to the somm at your local restaurant, etc. Before you know it, you’ll start picking up knowledge about what you like and what regions / styles you like.
Def no need to ever go to a winery if you don’t want to. Depending on the area you live in, I can recommend some shops with reasonably priced tastings on a weekly basis.
As for expense, it’s like eating out…doesn’t have to cost a lot, but it certainly can!