1. Leaving it till the last minute.
We may be biased here but the best place to buy wine in New Zealand is online. Do your research well in advance and you’ll be sure to get the best deals delivered straight to your place.
2. Try before you buy big.
Why buy a whole case before you know if you even like the wine? You may save a buck a bottle but that will be little consolation each time you trip over the 11 bottles of undrunk wine clogging up your kitchen/front room/cellar.
3. They do make wine outside of New Zealand.
We’re big fans of the NZ wine industry and all it’s achieved. And rightly so the industry is well supported by us parochial Kiwis. But sometimes we can be a little myopic in our viewpoint. New Zealand produces less than 1% of the world’s wine. So that leaves a lot of wine out there to be discovered. We also forget that the whole wine world has been improving over the last 20 years. Some may complain about the Parkerization of the global wine market but one reality today is that every country has improved their quality out of sight. Gone are the days of taking your chances with wines from far off places. You’re more likely to get a great bargain and discover something new about the world of wine to boot. So keep drinking your Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, but remember wine can be about discovery, adventure and learning as well. Why not try some Pinot Grigio from Italy, some Tempranillo from Spain, some Carmenere from Chile or some Malbec from Argentina. And if you get really crazy you might even buy some wine from France!
4. Don’t let someone else choose your wine.
Letting someone else choose your wine for you is probably not the best way to maximise your wine enjoyment. Some of the wines sent to you might just be memorable enough to get you to stay in the club but most of them you will have forgotten before they hit the recycling bin. Choose your wine yourself and you may make the odd mistake but on the whole you’ll get a lot more value for money and have some fun along the way.
5. Leave the medals for the athletes.
When was the last time you invited a few friends around to your place, opened 150 bottles of wine and took a sip out of each one before spitting into a jar? Never – that’s not how you drink wine? OK – there’s always going to be a place for wine shows, but it’s hard to get away from the fact that wines are simply not judged the same way they are consumed. Some big fruity wines do very well at wine shows because they provide the palate hit that appeals to a judge who has already sampled 50 wines before morning tea. Other more subtle, elegant wines tend to get overlooked and yet these are the wines that can provide the most enjoyable drinking. If you’re only going to buy wines with a medal sticker on the bottle you’re still going to leave a lot of gold on the shelf.
6. Stay informed
Probably the biggest mistake to make is not staying informed. A couple of the wine bibles we use around here are:
Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide to New Zealand Wines
Still the best guide to New Zealand wines going – updated every year.
James Halliday Australian Wine Companion
The most comprehensive guide to Australian wines out there.
We also like:
Quaff 2009 by Peter Forrestal
A great guide to wines under $15 available in Australia. Many of these wines are also available in New Zealand. This is a real budget guide that sticks to its guns. In some quarters the definition of budget wine seems to be creeping up to under $25. I can assure you we won’t let that happen around here!
Indispensable Wine Guide 2009 by Joelle Thomson
Thomson does a good job of covering a range of wine available in New Zealand including wines from New Zealand, Australia and further afield.