Want good wine all the time? Get to know your local wine shop.
Recently I was on vacation and stocking up on wine for the week. I wasn't concerned about pairing food with what I was buying, I was looking to indulge in my favorite flavor profile. (if you must know, when just having a glass of wine without a particular meal in mind I gravitate towards Chardonnays that have a nice butter overtone with an edge of acid running through the mid palate). Appellations that fit that particular profile in California are Sonoma Coast, Alexander Valley and Carneros. My cart was filled with wines that fit that profile. The gentleman that was working the floor at the time glanced at my selections and immediately tried to save me a bit of money by telling me I didn't need to spend so much to get good wine. He then showed me wines that I knew would not fill the bill. He meant well but had I not known what I was doing I may have been tempted to take his advice. I would have been disappointed.
How does this story encourage you to shop at a wine shop and get to know the staff? Your local wine shop wants to see you come back for all of your wine needs. They are invested in making sure each trip in results in you getting just what you want. They will get to know and understand who you are and what you prefer. On a budget? Never a problem! Don't hesitate to give price parameters. Most staff in smaller wine shops taste just about every wine that comes into their store and are quick to use that knowledge to steer you towards new finds and let you know how your old favorites are holding up. In the end this will save you time and money. Each bottle you bring home is sure to make you happy. And if it doesn't? Let them know! The more they know you, the better your experience will be.