No Names Invented in a Conference Room, and Other Rules for Buying Wine

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Over at The Washington Post, wine columnist Dave McIntyre has a short piece, titled "How to read a wine bottle," that contains several simple-sounding but insightful pieces of advice about how to judge a wine from its cover (label—and, okay, the bottle itself too). Some of the advice isn't at all surprising (for example, know your vintages). But other thoughts, like the conference room/vineyard distinction mentioned below, are more unusual:

We look first to the labels, of course. The producer's name might resonate only if you've had the wine before or know the winery's reputation. But a family name suggests pride in the product and perhaps generations of winemaking experience. In contrast, a brand such as the popular critter wines (Yellow Tail) or silly names such as Old Fart or Mommy's Time Out suggest marketing. I avoid wines that sound as if they were produced in a conference room rather than a vineyard.

With foreign wines, the most important information is the name of the importer. If you like a wine, note the importer's name, and look for other wines from that portfolio. For extra value, look for local importers. Some of my favorites: Kacher, Kysela, Dionysus, Country Vintner and Siema. Others that tend to be harder to find but also of high quality are Downey, Wine Traditions, Vintage 59, Ansonia, Simon 'N' Cellars, Potomac Selections, Grapes of Spain and Vin de Terra. National importers to look for include Touton, Winebow, Kermit Lynch, Jorge Ordonez and Vineyard Brands.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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Daniel Fromson, a former associate editor at The Atlantic, is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He writes regularly for The Washington Post. His work has also appeared in Harper's Magazine, New York, and Slate.

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