Don’t buy by the label: How to avoid the most common mistakes when shopping for wine

Knowledge of wine can quickly become a science – and one faux pas chases the next. What mistakes are often made when buying wine and how to avoid them. We provide orientation. 

Ten tips for buying wine in the supermarket

1. A good wine does not have to be expensive – but also not too cheap. With less than four euros per bottle, one can be skeptical and wonder whether decent wine can be made at the price.

2. Awards on the bottle provide orientation. After all, experts have tasted these wines and found them to be good.

3. For German wines, the official test number (AP number, label) also provides orientation. It can be found on every label of a quality wine and is a guarantee that the wine is sensory.

4. Pay attention to how the wine is presented: If it is put down carelessly, is it under permanent, glaring lighting? Are the bottles dusty? Then let it stand.

5. You should also leave wines from the lowest shelves, experts call this the “Bückzone”. Here are the cheapest wines, often of dubious origin, as well as dust collectors and slow-moving goods.

6. Speaking of slow-moving goods: Basically, wines in the supermarket are intended for immediate consumption and not necessarily storable. White and rosé wines in particular should be young and fresh, not older than two years (red wines four years). Pay attention to young vintages here – older ones are only useful for high-quality wines. The last two digits of the AP number (see point 3) indicate the year of bottling. For example, if there is “16” next to a white wine, it is already three years old. Better to leave it alone. The following applies to red wines in the supermarket: They should not be older than four years.

7. Sometimes leftover bottles are offered at low prices – be careful here! Sometimes there are white wines that are too old (see point 6) or red wines that are in a maturation phase in which they are undrinkable.

8. A nicely designed label says nothing about the quality of the wine. Don’t be dazzled.

9. There are special wine guides who specialize in testing wines from supermarkets. Newspapers also offer this service from time to time and put relevant information online. Pay attention to when such specific tests and evaluations are from – outdated recommendations will not help you.

10. No matter how tempting a special offer or bargain may seem: Before you buy a whole case of a certain wine, you should first take a bottle home with you and try the wine in peace.

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