Here's why you want to chat up the clerk at your local wine store: Because he or she can lead you to a better wine or lead you away from a potentially bad purchase. And, we've found, the better the wine store, the better the wine advice — generally.
We were in our local the other day buying a Clos du Bois Chardonnay that was on sale for $8. Clos du Bois is a good winery, and typically pretty reliable. But as it's grown, it has added bargain whites to its premium wines. Lots of wineries do it, and because the wine maker knows wine, they usually turn out a good bargain.
We couldn't find the on-sale Clos du Bois, only the winery's $25 premium version, so we asked, "Where's the Clos du Bois that is on sale?" The dutiful clerk took us to the bin. But, he quickly added, "if you like that, I've got a wine for a bit more that's much better." Music to our ears.
"Is it under $10?" we asked. Yes, he replied, and took us to the Muirwood Chardonnary 2008 from the California Central Coast. This bargain California Chardonnay is a bit on the light side for a Chard aged in oak, but it was medium-bodied and went really well with our grilled vegetables and salmon.
So, the lesson is: You don't have to take the advice of the clerk, but why not try out something he's gone out of his way to show you?