Where to buy

An in-depth guide on where and where not to buy wine.

By
November 18, 2010 10:15
3 minute read.
Wine

White Wine 521. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Shopping for wine terrifies many people, who are put off by the endless rows of wines in the average supermarket. Too much choice! However, don’t worry. Anyone who is capable of buying anything in a supermarket, is also more than capable of choosing a wine. It is just important to understand that you don’t have to be sophisticated or to understand wine. Just follow your nose. You know what price you want to pay and maybe what brand you prefer. You have an idea whether you want red or white. So go for a brand or name you know, and a label you like. Unlike twenty years ago, there are no bad wines in a supermarket. Don’t feel you have to impress anyone. Choosing what you like, is always the best buy.

The supermarkets today are listing far more quality wines than ever before, so the choice for the consumer has never been better. Remember ninety five per cent of all wine sold worldwide, is under NIS 40 a bottle, so buy at the price you want and don’t feel intimidated to buy a more expensive bottle than your budget can stand. In the larger supermarkets, the selection tends to be better. So Supersol’s ‘Big’ and Mega, have a larger range, and there is an increasing selection of better quality, more expensive wines available too. Supermarkets chains like Tiv Tam and Eden Teva Market have broad selections more in keeping with a quality wine store.

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In other countries, the supermarket is gradually replacing the specialist wine store. It could happen here too. However, you will still receive more personalized service in your local wine shop. Derech Ha’Yayin and ‘Wine & More’ are the biggest chains. Most reasonable sized towns have their own wine store, like Special Reserve in Haifa and Avi Ben in Jerusalem. These are usually managed by experts who will give professional advice to match your needs. Just always beware of the wine store pushing the wine they import or represent, if you seek truly unbiased advice.

A few warnings. Wine is like a food stuff, so it will deteriorate if not stored correctly. So avoid the grocery store or kiosk at all costs. There, sales may be slow, and wines are likely to have been left on the shelves, maybe standing in the sun, for too long. This will ensure the wine you buy may not be at the standard it should be. It is easy to blame the winery for a faulty wine, but it is more likely to be an issue of how the wine was kept and transported.

Look out for signs that a wine retailer is not professional. Messy shelves, yellow colored white wines, too many old vintages, are all guides that wine professionalism is not what it should be. Certainly a retailer that respects wine, should have wines costing near 100 shekels displayed horizontally. This is because the turnover will be slower and the cork needs to stay wet, so it does not dry out. If you see quality, expensive wines standing up, then it is a sign that this is a place to avoid.

Likewise, beware of the over-generous promotions. A supermarket is geared to promotion culture, so there are great deals to be had, especially before the festivals. However wines on sale in some places, can be a dumping of old wines.

Remember for a bottle of wine, the fixed packaging costs are roughly the same. Bottles, corks and labels are similar in price. So the difference between a wine costing 25 or 45 shekels is the actual wine. So buying the cheapest possible is not always the smart purchase. You really get what you pay for.

Best advice for wine buyers, is to go to the source. Visit the winery itself. Larger wineries will have a visitors’ center and wineries of all sizes are geared to selling wine on site. This can be fun, educational and wine will often be less expensive or definitely kept better than if it has gone through the distribution channels. There are hundreds of wineries, and some near you, wherever you are.



Finally, there are many imported wines available. However Israeli wines are so good today, and at every price point, that it is a pity if consumers do not support Israeli wine. So my advice is to buy blue and white and be proud of the quality and variety of wines produced in Israel!

Adam Montefiore works for Carmel Winery. He regularly writes about wines in both Israeli and international publications. adam@carmelwines.co.il


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