As a wine writer, I get asked lots of interesting questions, from which wine goes with oxtail soup to how can I get a job like yours? I love hearing from readers because it's their questions that often form the basis of my articles. For this post, I'll answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
How do I find a wine if it's not in my wine store?
Many readers tell me about a fabulous wine they had on vacation or at a friend's house but couldn't find in their local wine store. To find a wine, first check the liquor store's web site, as many have searchable databases that will tell you whether they stock the wine and at which locations. Some chains have hotlines you can call. If they don't sell the wine, they may be able to give you the name and phone number of the sales agent who represents it so that you can buy directly. You can also look at the winery's web site, which often lists local retailers or agents. If not, you can e-mail the general mailbox to ask about them.
How do I know when to drink a wine?
Most wines made these days are meant to be consumed when they're bought, or at least within a year or two of purchase. For the few that require aging, the right time to drink them depends on the region, the climate that year, and the wine's longevity. I suggest you buy a wine pocket guide by Hugh Johnson or Oz Clark that describe individual wines and advise you when to drink them.
How do I find out the price of this wine?
Readers who discover a dusty old bottle in their cellar often ask me this question. You can check the web site of your local liquor store or the winery itself. But in the case of older wines, you may want to search the web site of the auction houses, such as Christies and Sothebys, which give the prices paid for mature bottles. Two of the best sites for worldwide wine prices are WineSearcher.com and Winealert.com.
I'd love to hear from you if you have a wine question. Contact me via my web site at www.nataliemaclean.com.