MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Many of us will be celebrating Valentine’s Day on Friday with a nice dinner out and maybe a bottle of wine.

That had us wondering: How do you find the best value for a bottle?

“Bang for the buck has changed over the last few years,” said Jason Kallson, wine expert with The Wine Company. “What used to be true was having the second least expensive bottle on the list be the one everyone goes for. Restaurants have kind of caught on to that one.”

Kallson says the biggest change is that more winemakers are making better wine.

“You really have a hard time finding truly bad bottles of wine even at lower price points,” he said.

First, you must determine what value means to you. In many cases, higher-priced wines have a lower mark-up, but Kallson says that too can vary depending on the wine, the restaurant and how many bottles that particular restaurant is selling.

Kallson recommends trying wines we haven’t heard much about in the past. He says look for wines varieties that might be hard to pronounce or come from a different region.

“They are fighting for attention,” he said. “They are competing against the likes of Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc in order to get the attention at the bars.”

He suggested bottles in the following varieties: the Vermentino from Italy, the Viognier from France and the Monastrell from Spain. These bottles will generally be in the bottom third to quarter of prices on a wine list.

He suggests people order flavor over variety. For example, instead of asking for a Chardonnay, ask for a full-bodied white wine, something with oak and creamier feel.

And, finally, Kallson always encourages people to talk with their server or sommeliers. Sometimes, they might even know of a discount on a great wine because the restaurant is trying to move those bottles.

“They know what they’re talking about and they’re honest about it,” Kallson said. “Their goal is to make you happy, because it’s all about you leaving happy.”


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