I think many of you can relate when I say I have my "people" for certain services. Hair stylist. Massage guru. Acupuncturist. Physical Trainer. Plumber. You get the idea.... My relationships with these people are critical to the quality of service I receive. My hair stylist recently moved down to Florida, for example. She was fabulous and it took me three other stylist before I "found" her. We shared 3 years of snip-snip bliss. Now, I'll have to make a new investment to find the right person to meet my needs. At least I'm one step closer to hair cut heaven - I like the place I go to. It's the same when it comes to wine. Two weeks ago I met a couple at a Pour Favor tasting. They were lamenting the selection at their local liquor store. Challenge #1? Liquor stores may (claim to) have a fine wines selection, but if they aren't geared toward wine in particular then they likely aren't seeking out new, quality selections. More likely the "fine" in Fine Wines is up for grabs; you'll notice they stick to the mainstream wines we see so often. I doubt whether they even taste the next vintage of the standard wines they carry each year. Challenge #2? They likely do not have staff on hand who have specialized wine knowledge and are equipped to take you from Yellow Tail* to Yippee!
* I have nothing against Yellow Tail, just that there's an ocean of wine out there even more worthy of exploration. I use it here merely as a reference point on this perspective - and because the 'Y' alliteration was fun.... what can I say?
You may have noticed above that I use the word "challenge" rather than "problem". This is intentional. I believe there's no such thing as a problem, only an opportunity for a creative solution. In the case of wine:
#1 ~ Find yourself a Fine Wines shop that offers a wide selection of wines from across the world at reasonable/competitive prices...
#2 ~ With staff who have specific wine knowledge and are available to help you find an appropriate selection given your particular search (e.g. dinner at a friend's, wine to have on hand for whenever, etc.).
It is worth taking these two, simple steps. Everyone/store has a specialty. If your local is more concerned with beer or lottery sales than stocking their shelves with unique wine finds, you should search out a fine wine shop. Maybe you end up purchasing a case of wine (and enjoying the store's discount as a result) and pop in every couple of months rather than every week because they aren't as close by. It's worth it. A store with a wine buyer who knows their craft is incredibly valuable. Just remember figuring out your wine preferences won't happen over night. Just like with your beloved barber/stylist, you should be prepared to invest time in your relationship with the shop's buyer. And remember the onus is on you to tell the buyer what you did or did not like about a particular wine they helped you to select. (Taking notes on a wine is never a bad idea.) Such due diligence will help get you to "Yippee!" a heck of a lot faster.
Do you have a Wine Shop/Buyer you rely on? What are your standards of 'care'?