Editor’s note: If you live in a state that doesn’t allow wine to be sold in grocery stores, these are still handy tips for knowing how to choose an inexpensive but quality bottle from your local liquor store.
Whether you’re on a budget or just don’t want to shell out for a bottle of wine, it can be hard to find inexpensive wine that doesn’t taste like garbage. Typically, you get what you pay for when it comes to almost everything, but there are a few tricks and tips you can utilize the next time you’re standing in the wine aisle at your local supermarket.
First, always avoid boxed wine. If it comes in bulk (except a magnum), it’s probably not great. Franzia and other boxed wines are ridiculously high in sugar to camouflage the foul taste of what they choose to call wine. Leave those bad decisions to your college days.
Next, look for a “cutesy” label—you know what we mean. Balloons, line drawings and flowers are all hallmarks of easy-t0-drink wine. Whites will be sweeter and less complex (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!) and reds will be soft on tannins and not as acidic.
Finally, avoid wines that are on sale. There’s a good chance that they’ve been sitting for a while, either in the store or in a warehouse somewhere, and not all wines like to be aged. You could end up with a bottle that’s corked and vinegary—definitely not a great accompaniment to a meal.
When choosing wine, be sure to read the label to see where it was produced. Wines that were “produced and bottle” or “vinted and bottled” in the same location are generally better quality. Some brands will buy grapes or wine from a number of various sources, and the quality can be iffier.
If all else fails, download the Vivino app. It’s free and encompasses thousands of labels, with more being added every day. You’ll be able to tell if you’re getting a good deal, see tasting notes by official sommeliers and read crowd-sourced opinions by real people. Cheers!
[h/t Spoon University]