The over-used cliché that “you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover” is absolutely something to keep in mind when faced with the task of picking a bottle of wine at the store. It’s hard to escape, though; at least with books, you can open the front cover, flip through, read a couple paragraphs, and decide if it’s to your liking. How do you do that with wine?
It’s unlikely that the store will allow you to just open the bottle and taste it before committing to the sale. So you are faced with the dilemma of whether to go with something that you know is decent and will suit your needs, go off of a salesperson’s recommendation, or select a wine based on the label.
For argument’s sake, let’s assume that you don’t recognize any of the wines on the shelf or that you’re in the mood to try something different, and that you don’t want (or, sadly, can’t find) assistance from a sales clerk. You’re flying blind in the wine aisle!
First, focus on what you want; varietal, price range, region. Narrow down your search as much as you can, and then focus on that area of the department. When you’ve done that, you can start to have some fun with selecting the exact bottle you should bring home....