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How to Navigate a Snooty Wine Shop


Shopping for wine should be a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, it isn’t always the case, sometimes it can be overwhelming. The world of wine can be confusing, and some wine people may seem snooty, but there are wine people, sommeliers that are dedicated to helping others figure it out. And while wine can be intimidating, it actually can be relatively simple to navigate, that is once you have the basics down. So next time the wine shop seems to be outside your comfort zone, follow these five tips to get yourself in and out headache free, and with some fantastic wine.

  • Have a purpose

Decide why you are going into the wine shop in the first place, and communicate that upfront to the wine shop attendant. “I’m shopping for a great wine to bring to a friend’s engagement party tonight.” The attendant will then immediately ask you what you’re looking for. Have points 2-4 below ready to discuss.

  • Decide your price point

Be up front about what you want to spend and don’t feel shy about sharing, even if the price is on the lower side. “I am looking to spend under $30, but looking for one of those hidden gems that will really shine.”

  • Determine the style of wine you want

Red or white? Old world or new world? Age-worthy or ready-to-drink? Choosing a wine is all about narrowing down options. Discuss a few of the basics. “I think I’d like to bring a red from France or Italy that is ready to drink tonight.”

  • Determine the flavor profile that pairs best with your food or occasion

Think about your audience and communicate what you do know, even if it’s not much. “I know they will be serving dinner there, but I don’t know what the food will be like. Do you have a suggestion for something versatile that will go with many different types of foods?”

  • Ask for help in finalizing a decision

Now that you’ve given your wine shop attendant all of this information, he or she will immediately know what to suggest. Trust their judgment. They know those wines well! In this case, a Grenache-Syrah-Carignan blend from the Rhone Valley is just the thing for you.

While your wine shop attendant may have seemed disinterested at the start, he or she was probably just relying on you to start the conversation. With these few basics, you can break through any snooty wine stereotypes and begin a great wine relationship with your local shop. That’s what they are there for!


By Lauren Barnard, of Kampala Wines