You've bought a bed, a car, maybe even a house. So why is choosing a bottle of wine as nerve-wracking as high-kicking for cheerleader tryouts? When faced with a wide selection, many novice wine buyers assume the solution is to "trade up." If you spend more, the wine will be better, right? Not necessarily. You can never assume that a $20 bottle is twice as good as a $10 one. As with other expensive foods and drinks (like caviar and exotic cheeses), high-priced wines may take you into acquired-taste territory. Here, three successful wine-buying strategies.
Buy brands. Surprised? Just like cereal, software, and running shoes, best-sellers in the wine world are popular for a reason: They consistently offer good value for the money.
Narrow it down. The "big six" grape varieties break down into three whites (Riesling, Sauvignon or Fume Blanc, Chardonnay) and three reds (Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon), which make up the bulk of quality wine sold in the United States.
Do your tasting homework. No, you don't need to study wine to enjoy it. But a little trial and error with different wines will help you zero in on the grapes and tastes you like. They all taste like wine, but each is distinct, in the same way that a Granny Smith and a Golden Delicious apple both taste appley but differs from each other.