The wine store. The wine section at the grocery store. The wine retail website. Terrifying experiences for many. Sweat. Shakes. Nervousness. So many labels. So many labels. So many labels...
There's an easy way to avoid this anxiety, so common among even more experienced wine drinkers. Forget the front of the bottle. Concentrate on the back.
The back label is where, often, the wine importer's logo can be found. Now, I'm talking about wines from Europe, primarily, here. If all you ever drink is California wine, you don't need this advice.
At right is the famous logo of Kermit Lynch, an importer who owns a wine store in Berkeley, CA and who is highly regarded for seeking out rewarding, delicious French wines that don't cost an arm and leg. I've been a fan since I lived in Brooklyn and had access to the Lynch portfolio through my local wine shop. (Lynch also wrote one of the great wine books, "Adventures on the Wine Route," in which he recounts his experiences finding unusual wines and passionate winemakers in France.)
At any rate, there's a Whole Foods near our KPCC HQ in Pasadena that stocks a number of Lynch wines, so I'm a happy boy once again. Joyous, actually.
I can make another importer recommendation, as well, for those who prefer to shop at Trader Joe's: Latitude Wines. Once again, fairly distinctive French wines that are worth a shot. Not as high a profile as Lynch, but a way to sort out TJ's French selections.