How to Choose a Bottle of Wine at the Store According to a Sommelier

By Razille Mae Biaca / July 21, 2022 /

When you go to the store, the wine aisle can be quite daunting. There are so many different types of wine on the market these days that it can be tough to decide which bottle to purchase when you're at the store. 

How do you know if you're choosing a wine that will pair well with your meal? Or, if you're just looking for something to drink on a relaxing night at home, what type of wine should you buy? If you don't know how to choose a bottle of wine, don't worry - we've got you covered! 

We will discuss everything from grape varietals to price points, and we will give you some tips on how to find great deals on wine. Let's get started!

1) What's the Occasion

When you are looking to buy a bottle of wine you need to know what the occasion is. Here are some quick options for different situations:

Bringing a wine for a large party

Go for something affordable and easy to drink. For the hot summer day parties, bring a Sauvignon Blanc and Rose. For evening parties, bring a Red blend and Merlot.


Champagne is a great way to celebrate any occasion! Some of the best brands are Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, and Dom Perignon. 

If you're having a large gathering, it's possible that you don't want to spend so much on Champagne. Then opt for a Prosecco or Cava. 

Impressing the In-laws

If you're looking to impress your in-laws, go for a more expensive bottle of wine. Look to buy a Napa Valley Cabernet or Barolo from Italy. These big, bold red wines will make the individuals you're trying to impress very pleased.


The Bro Basket Wine Gift Basket is a great gift for any wine lover. It comes with a variety of wines, chocolate, coffee, and other goodies.

Another wonderful present is personalized wine engraved bottles, which are perfect for birthdays.

2) Know What Type of Wine You Want

The second thing you need to consider when choosing a bottle of wine is what type of wine you want. There are red wines, white wines, rosés, and sparkling wines. Within each of these categories, there are many different grape varietals. 

For example, some common red wine grape varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. It will help a lot if you do some research before you buy so that you can understand the many types of red wine varietals. 

If you know which type of wine you want but are not sure which grape varietal to choose, a good rule of thumb is to select a wine from a region that you are familiar with. Certain areas are known for producing one or two types of varietals. 

For example, if you know you want a red wine but are not sure which grape varietal to choose, selecting a bottle of Pinot Noir from Oregon is a safe bet. Here are a few other examples and tips:

  • If you like Cabernet Sauvignon, look for wine from Napa, Paso Robles, Left bank Bordeaux, Chianti
  • If you like Pinot Noir, look for wine from Oregon, Sonoma, Sta Rita Hills, Burgundy
  • If you like Merlot, look for wine from California, Right bank Bordeaux, Australia

3) Budget

The next thing you need to consider is price. Wine can range in price from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. When it comes to price, you generally get what you pay for. However, that does not mean that you need to spend a lot of money to get a good bottle of wine. There are many great wines that are reasonably priced. The most essential step in obtaining great wine bargains is to find the right store.

Many stores offer discounts on wine, so be sure to ask about any deals that may be going on. You can also look for wines that are produced by lesser-known wineries or regions. These wines often offer excellent quality at a fraction of the cost of more popular brands.

Tip: Costco has great wine selections for great prices. If the bottle’s price ends in something other than 99, you are getting a great price, it has most likely been further marked down. (ex. $.79)

In the end, regardless of the price, you want a bottle that you and everyone else drinking with will like.

4) How to Read a Wine Bottle Label

Now that you know what type of wine you want and how much you are willing to spend, it is time to start shopping! When you are at the store, take some time to read the labels on the bottles. This will give you an idea of what the wine will taste like. If you are not sure what to look for, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The grape varietal will be listed on the label.
  • The region where the wine was produced will also be listed.
  • The vintage of the wine will be shown (e.g., 2018, 2019, etc.).
  • The alcohol content will be stated on the label (normally between 11%-15%)
  • Some wineries also list tasting notes on their labels. These can give you an idea of what flavors to expect from the wine.
  • Use the Vivino App to help you see reviews and get tasting notes from other wine drinkers.¬†

New World Label vs Old World Label

When you are shopping for wine, it is important to be able to distinguish between New World and Old-World wine labels. New World wines are from countries like the United States, Australia, and Chile. These wines typically have bright, colorful labels with simple designs. The wines are made in a modern style and are often fruit-forward.

Old World wines are from countries like Italy, France, and Spain. These wines have more traditional labels with intricate designs. The wines are made in a classic style and often have earthier flavors.

5) Pairing Wine and Food

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a bottle of wine is what you will be eating it with. The general rule is that you want to match the weight of the wine with the weight of the food. For example, heavier red wines go well with heartier dishes like steak or lamb, while lighter red wines pair well with fish or chicken. Here are some red wine varietal guidelines:

  • Zinfandel goes well with BBQ ribs, pepperoni pizza
  • Merlot always goes well with meat, hamburgers, pork
  • Cabernet Sauvignon also goes very well with meat like lamb, steak, and dark chocolate

White wines are generally lighter in the body than red wines and can be paired with a variety of dishes. Some general guidelines are:

  • Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with seafood, especially shellfish
  • Chardonnay goes well with poultry and creamy cheeses
  • Riesling is great with spicy food
  • Pinot Grigio is a versatile wine that can be paired with many different dishes

When it comes to pairing wine and food, there are no hard and fast rules. The best way to figure out what goes well together is to experiment and find combinations that you like. Don't be afraid to try something new! You might just discover your new favorite wine and food pairing.


Hopefully, this guide has given you some helpful tips on how to choose a bottle of wine at the store. In conclusion, when choosing a bottle of wine, you should consider the occasion, type of grape varietal, the region it is from, and the price. You can also use Vivino to get reviews and tasting notes from other wine drinkers. 

Again, if you're not sure what type of wine you prefer, go with an Old-World wine for earthier wine and a New World wine for fruitier wine.

Now that you know how to choose a bottle of wine, it's time to start shopping! Cheers!

About the Author: Mark Fang is a certified Sommelier and has 10+ years of wine industry experience. He founded the #1 Wine Event in NYC and has started his wine blog (WineO Mark, to find his readers the best wine deals!