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Taste the wine but don’t buy the bottle. Green is all in favor of going to wineries for wine tastings, but he points out that they’re not the best places to actually buy wine. “I’ll cut to the chase,” says Green. “There is only one reason to buy wine at a winery: because they don’t sell it in other markets around the country. You can generally find wine much less expensively if you find it at a local retail store. They are not discounting it at the winery.”
 
Choose which wineries to visit by the experiences they offer. Green suggests visiting no more than three wineries in a day, and picking ones that explore different areas of “wine culture”. “Try to craft different experiences,” Green suggests. “So, at one winery you might learn about wine making, at another you’ll learn about vineyards and the growth of grapes, at another the experience might be more about food and wine pairings, or the wonderful art and architecture at the winery. Some wineries are even hosting music festivals, and allowing guests to custom blend their own bottles!”
 
Avoid restaurant wine lists. Though it sounds counter-intuitive, Green feels that vacationers get a better wine experience when they BYOB. “Wherever possible I try not to order wine off a restaurant wine list,” reveals Green. “The majority of restaurant wine lists are poor, with too many choices, not enough white wines, small fonts and typos. But more importantly, I think, for many people too much choice is a feature that’s not a benefit.” Instead, Green suggests calling the restaurant in advance to advise them you’ll be bringing your own bottle, an action that usually incurs a “corkage fee” of $10—$25 dollars. 
 
But even with that fee, at the finer restaurants, you may end up spending less on wine. “In today’s market place you do not need to spend more than $25 retail on any bottle of wine. Unless, that is, it meets three criteria,” explains Green. “Number one is that it has age: you’re paying for those wonderful flavors that, with certain wines, only come with age. Number two is that the wine comes from a piece of real estate where you can really taste the difference, like a sancerre from the Loire Valley. Finally, you should pay more if the wine is made in miniscule quantities and is really quite unique. But none of those three criteria apply to the vast majority of wonderfully drinkable wines.” 
 
With that in mind, you could buy a terrific wine for less than $25, pay the corkage fee and still spend less than you would if you purchased wine from the restaurant. “Often for the quality of wine you might want to bring, the restaurant will charge you far, far more than you paid retail for that bottle. Far more than the bottle plus the corkage fee.”
 
If you must buy a bottle from a restaurant, choose the cheapest one. This tip only works for very good restaurants, says Green. “Usually people are too embarrassed to choose the cheapest bottle, but they’re almost always very good and often unique,” says Green, explaining that often the cheapest bottles have to be replaced less often , meaning the restaurant can choose vintages that are available only in limited supply. “Try ordering the cheapest wine on the list in a great restaurant. I think you’ll be happily surprised!”

For more wine advice from Michael Green, click here.