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buying wine at the deli

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I've found a wine store I like, I've got a relationship with the manager who gives me good recommendations, and I feel like I'm learning quite a lot about wine (finally). But most of my wine shopping happens at the deli in my neighborhood where the selection is pretty pedestrian and I just don't know what's worth buying and what isn't. I feel like I drank without discrimination for so long that even though I know what different grape varieties taste like, I'm not good at picking out quality. When faced with Yellow Tail, Jacob's Creek, Penfolds, Little Penguin, Mondavi, Barefoot, Coppola, Columbia Crest, Lindemann's... any tips?? I mean, sometimes I read something like "Yellow Tail cab sav is surprisingly good", but if I read that 4 years ago, that can't still be valid. Should I stick to a particular country that generally produces good quality? Is there a particular grape that is never good at a low price point? Is there one bargain label that is almost always a good bet? Or is deli wine just what you get in a pinch, keep expectations low?

Thanks! This forum has been really helpful in the past!

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  1. I find that for "lower-end" wines, South America (Chili) produces a lot of good wines for the value, as well as Portugal.

    Usually, try to stick with well known producers, they might not make the best wines, but the quality should be more or less equal whatever the year.

    (sidenote)
    Here in Quebec, due to the monopolistic nature of the wine business, wines sold in "deli" (or convenience stores, aka d├ępaneurs) have no known quality to them, and it's best to buy beer instead!! (and above all, contrary to the SAQ (the provincial stores) taxes are added to the display prices, so you pay more for a lower quality wine than you would find at the SAQ stores.

    M.