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  • Writer's pictureV.A.

10 tips for picking the right bottle

Jancis Robinson is the author of the practical pocket-sized book called the 24-hour wine expert. Jancis Robinson is one of my personal favorite authors in the wine world. My library is full of her books, and I keep on buying them! Also, she is working with WSET awards. What's most surprising about her is that she is the first person (outside the wine trade) to pass the rigorous Master of Wine exam. Please visit her website

Below are 10 tips (my notes) from her book The 24-hour wine expert about picking the right bottle of wine. Hope they will help you on your next visit to a restaurant or a wine shop.

  1. Don't buy/order a bottle that has been stored close to intense light, like from a shop's window or a bottle that has been stored near heat sources. Heat and artificial light/intense light can damage the wine, and the wine will lose its fruit and freshness.

  2. Choose a bottle that has the wine bottled as close as possible from the growing site of the grapes. Avoid New Zealand wine that has been bottled in the UK and look for "Mis en Bouteille au domaine/château" on French wine labels for example.

  3. If you choose a bottle with a natural cork, select the one that has been stored properly, which means in a horizontal position (that keeps the cork moist and doesn't let any oxygen in).

  4. Check the level of wine in the bottle from under the neck. If there are more than two or three centimeters of space above the surface of the wine in a standing bottle, that bottle has let harmful oxygen get in.

  5. "The rule of five" when choosing fine wine vintages. -> "All vintages since 1985 divisible by five (ending in 5 or 0) have been pretty good".

  6. Check the back label of the wine bottle. Some offer too many flavor descriptors and recommended food matches (that can be just marketing talk). Instead, choose a bottle that has more information on how the wine is made.

  7. Use your phone! There are many useful apps or webpages where you can check the ratings and opinions of wine critics. - I prefer Vivino (app), which also helps me track which wines I have tasted, and the notes I wrote about them.

  8. If you don't like the wine recommendation, ask for another one until you feel satisfied and confident with your choice.

  9. If you are choosing inexpensive white or rose wine, take the youngest vintage available.

  10. Don't always buy wine on special offers. Always ask why the wine is on that offer. Sometimes the wine is on offer because it is in bad condition or it is too old, and they have to get rid of it.


Get Jancis Robinson's book The 24-hour wine expert on Amazon.

As always have a WINEderful day :)

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