In which I share my secret wine selection method

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I could not find this wine on the shelf, but it was the hands-down winner in the shop tonight.

It’s really quite simple:

  1. Set a budget for your wine buy
  2. Choose your favorite wine label
  3. Buy wine with said label

Clearly, I am not a wine person. I am a beer person, though — I love good beers and I certainly don’t want my wine to taste blech. For this reason, I’d recommend you stick to a budget no lower than $12/bottle.

Come, let me show you exactly how I choose wines.

Want more than a label critique? Here's one review of Boom Boom!.
Want more than a label critique? Here’s one review of Boom Boom!.

Boom Boom! Sryah

This is one of my friends’ favorite wines — and it can be hard to come by. The $20ish 2007 vintage is sold out online — and often in our wine shops — but I’ve had it before and it is tasty.

Let me assure you I have not been biased toward this wine because of my previous experience with it. My wine tasting notes go about as deep as “tastes like bathtub wine”/”doesn’t taste like bathtub wine,” so all I remember about Boom Boom! is that I enjoyed it.

The label itself is easy to spot — high contrast and simple, with just a few pieces of information. I appreciate its direct opposition to most wine labels with their rolling landscapes at dusk or dawn, or objectified grapes, or silhouetted line drawings. The hand-drawn look is playful but clean and works really well with the name of the wine.


DMZ chardonnay

This has a nice, scroll-y, very contemporary blue-and-beige label. The clean lines of the center badge mix well with the more ornate linework filling out the rest of the label. This style of design is so very popular right now, but it’s much less common on the wine racks than on event posters and design blogs, so I’m cool with it. Plus, it’s very nicely done — it’s hard to hate on something for being too zeitgeisty when it nails the style of the moment so well.

The light blue pops off the shelf, and I particularly love the matching blue wrapping on the neck of the bottle.

I think this is a wine I’d choose to bring to dinner at a designer friend’s house.


This is the wine I chose tonight: Tarot Grenache

It was the right price — right at $12 — and I’m kind of a sucker for anything with skulls on it. I didn’t even know that grenache was a type of wine until I Googled it, so that’s how clueless I am about this pick.

Again, I’ve found myself drawn to a label with a hand-drawn look. The colors on Tarot are also attractive: the four-color palette combined with the drawn quality gives the wine an aura of mystery. This looks like an illumination straight from the 16th century, and I like that. I can’t not dig the mysterious symbols, too. I like a wine I can sip while pretending it might have magickal powers over me.

Runners-up in the design selection tonight included:

how i choose wine

I haven’t popped the cork on my bottle of Tarot yet — okay, so this one is a twist top — but I’m sure my wine selection technique will serve me well once again. Every wine tastes better when I have something pretty to look at.

Comments on In which I share my secret wine selection method

  1. So, way late here, but you all need to check out Wines til Sold Out (, I think). Insane discounts on wine. 😀

  2. Mmm same way I choose mine. Best finds so far —
    *Apothic (pref Red or Dark)
    *Menage Trois (a red blend)
    *Anything “Elephant Island” (mostly fruit wines. My fave is their “Stellaport”)

  3. Sometimes when I’m feeling like trying a new wine I’ll play the “color & shape” game. I pick a price range, whether I want red or white, then without looking at the selection I’ll pick a color and a shape. Like I’ll pick a red triangle, or a black circle, or a blue square. Then I’ll try and find a wine with that shape and color on their label. Sometimes it’s a bit of a stretch, sometimes I can’t find anything, but sometimes I’ll discover a new wine I love and never would have tried before.

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