Here are three easy ways to get more bang for your buck when you shop for wine.
1. Become a regular at your local wine shop. If your grocery store or specialty store has a wine specialist, make friends with him or her. The wine guy at our local World Market knows me by sight and always has a new wine to propose, based on wines I've tried in the past. Be picky - just because they work in that department, doesn't mean they may be able to help you. You want to be sure the wine specialist knows wine and understands the types of wines you like or may be willing to try.
2. Get to know some online sources. There are THOUSANDS of wine bloggers airing their opinions. There are plenty of poorly written blogs (I've read quite a few of them). But there are an equal number of excellent sites as well (wineinthyme comes to mind.....) Two award-winning sites include www.vinography.com and www.goodwineunder20.blogspot.com. I would also recommend the blogs I follow (see my list).
3. Start your own wine-tasting group. This has a lot to offer. One - you get to drink more wine without spending more money. Two - it gives you a reason to get together with friends and drink more wine. 3 - Besides being fun, it can be educational to taste and compare your opinions with your friends. I would encourage you to make a "wine-tasting notes" sheet, so you and your friends can make notes as you taste-test. Feel free to post your comments and recommendations here!