Finding The Hidden Gems

Finding The Hidden Gems

Etude Cabernet Sauvignon

One night when we were out to dinner in Jamaica, I found a hidden gem on their wine list—a 2003 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon for $48! I have long been a fan of this brand started by Tony Soter in Napa Valley and I knew that sounded more like a retail price. Restaurant wine prices are usually about twice the retail price or more. So we snapped up a few bottles for our group—delicious. I could hardly wipe the smile off my face the next day when I looked it up online and saw that retail prices ranged from $65-80 on average! I felt like I had won an amazing prize.

If you want to find your own hidden gems keep these tips in mind:

  • Do Your Homework—If you have time, check out the wine list beforehand or on your iPhone on your way there. Many restaurants have their base list online where you can scout for the best deals. Use to check the retail price of the same wines. Typically, a restaurant markup is at least two times retail. If it is less, you might just have a gem!
  • Go exploring—Some of the best bargains out there come from little known wine regions. Ever heard of Jumilla, Spain or Trentino, Italy? Chances are, most people haven’t, but these regions have fabulous wines that rival their more famous sister regions, such as Rioja and Tuscany. Start trying wines from some of these newcomers – you will not be disappointed!
  • Varieties are the spice of wine—I know you love your Pinot Grigio and Shiraz, but don’t miss out on all the other hundreds of grape varieties that exist, like Barbera or Albariño. Many times the best bargains are wines made from grape varieties you’ve never tried. Just tell the waiter or sommelier the style of wine you like and they can help guide you.
  • The Sommelier is your friend— If you really want to find the hidden gems, ask people who live and breathe wine – aka wine professionals. Take it from me, we love to drink great wine and, when you drink it often, you need to find bargains! Most wine buyers or sommeliers taste 50-100 wines every week looking for new selections or wines for events. Let them know what styles of wine you like and your price range and they will be thrilled to help.

Here’s hoping you find a hidden gem to sip next time you are dining out!