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It is worthwhile using expert advice when buying wine. In the past this meant going to a wine merchant and accepting what they had to sell. Today there is plenty of informed comment in the press on which wines are worth trying. Journalists may recommend wines which promptly sell out as readers try to buy them which points up how limited the supply of many good wines can be. Books, especially annual ones, will update you on the condition of vintages and will pick out rising stars and up-and-coming regions. Be aware, though, that even specialist writers can taste only a small percentage of the wines available. They also have their personal likes and dislikes. To tie yourself to the recommendations of just one expert is to restrict your choice, increase your bills (star wines always rise in price) and miss half the fun of wine, which is discovering for yourself which wines you like best.

Cultivate wine merchants, from the august traditionalists to the bright young staff at well-run chain stores. Many of them have wide experience, and today many are trained by wine education authorities. In a good store the staff will have tasted the wines and can advise on their maturity, fitness for various food combinations and general character.

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