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With the assistance of a pro

We tend to find a few bottles of wine we like and continue to buy those bottles over and over. Eventually we are in a comfortable rut. I've been there. Before I worked in the industry, I would go months drinking the same few inexpensive bottles.

As a winery gains success, many choose to expand their production to maximize their profits. With expansion comes change. If a producer wants to expand beyond what their vineyards will produce, say 10,000 cases to 100,000 cases, they must outsource grapes. Their original holdings may be better quality than the grapes they are able to purchase. Producers don't announce to the public that they've gone ten-fold over a few vintages. Those of us merrily drinking the same juice might not notice the gradual change.

So how do consumers stop themselves from slipping into a mediocre rut? The average consumer doesn't have time to scour the 'cork dork' trade magazines or surf the Internet for press releases and take my word for it, spitting and taking notes at a crowded public wine tasting is annoying. (For those of you that don't know, you spit the wine out to keep your palate keen. As alcohol enters the blood stream, every wine starts to taste like a winner-whoopee!)

A practical option is to find a wine professional who can make recommendations according to your tastes. There are people working at the retail end of the wine trade who study wines in the Colorado market just so they can offer a valuable service to the public. Once you find a few places to shop that offer this expertise, you can build a rapport and always be drinking quality wines.

Smaller stores are often better for this because they actually hire hourly employees to wait on customers. These hourly employees have no hidden agenda. They want to sell you whatever will make you happy to insure that you will return to shop again. Larger stores require wine salespeople from the distributors, suppliers, and importers put in hours waiting on their customers. Many of these salespeople will help you make a decision based on what you want. Be wary of those that do not listen carefully to your request. Even though someone in the supply chain suggests a wine that they represent, don't assume that it isn't a good bottle.

Some stores offer in-store opportunities to sample wine. This can be a great learning experience if the person pouring the wine is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the product. The portions of wine are small, but are sufficient for making a buying decision. Many city and counties have not approved this activity yet, so traveling to a store that samples wine may pose an inconvenience. You are also limited to what they are pouring since the state requires that they submit paperwork disclosing the names of the products being sampled.

Another terrific option is the home wine party. You invite your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors and a wine professional brings the glasses, wine, and their expertise. Many selections offered are reasonably priced and very good quality. Attendees are invited to order the wines they enjoyed, to be delivered at a later time. This is a wonderful way to know what you are getting before you make a purchase.

When you purchase a bottle of wine from anywhere, you should be able to return it if you are not satisfied, as long as a majority of it is left in the bottle. Retailers get credit for returned bottles of wine. If a retailer doesn't cooperate with your return, regardless of the reason, don't do business with them in the future. Close out wines can be an exception.

Be open to the recommendations of the young or old, male or female wine professional. Allow us to do the homework for you. We are a skillful crew that devotes much time and effort into being a resource for you.
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