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Originally published September 7, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Page modified November 13, 2012 at 6:49 PM

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How to hunt down recommended wines

Most readers are looking for accessible, affordable wines to consume in the near term. Here is how to find them.

Special to the Seattle Times

Pick of the week

Ernesto Catena 2011 Padrillos Malbec; $10

A STANDOUT Argentine malbec in this price range, the 2011 Padrillos features tart, sappy berry fruit with a gunmetal base. It has grip, purity and authority with none of the faked-up vanilla syrup excess of many cheap reds. Vineyard Brands imports. (Noble distributes)

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RECENTLY, I was chastised by a reader who was frustrated because he could not find a wine I had recommended in one of my Sunday columns. The problem of what wines to recommend is one I wrestle with every week. I want to keep the column fresh, informative, entertaining and above all useful. I look far and wide for wines that are better than their peers, at affordable prices, and easily available. But were I to limit myself exclusively to such wines, I would have run out of topics and ideas long ago.

Wine is an adventure. If you have an interest beyond finding the next bottle for drinking at dinner it can be a lifelong pursuit. You may tie the subject of wine into almost any other field of knowledge you can name. History, religion, agriculture, geology, chemistry, physiology, design, marketing ... The list goes on. The lifestyle connections that wine links to are equally diverse.

But the bottom line, as I am well aware, is that most readers are looking for some accessible, affordable wines to consume in the near term. Here is how to find them:

• Most wines recommended in this column are current releases. If I write about older wines, or limited-production wines, I will make note of that. When possible, I list the wine's distributor and/or importer. It is simply not possible to list the retail outlets for individual wines. There are too many, and they change constantly.

• To find a domestic wine, especially one from Washington or Oregon, I suggest you contact the winery directly. Winery websites are much better than in the past, and most small wineries will keep the sales part of their websites current. The website will also tell you what states they are allowed to ship wine into. Washington wineries can ship to Washington addresses with no problem. Out-of-state wineries must fulfill certain legal requirements and usually will indicate if they are allowed to ship to Washington. If not, a phone call will clear things up.

• My best recommendation is to find a wine-seller near you and cultivate a relationship. Some will be reluctant to do special orders, but most will be happy to serve a regular customer. By regularly asking for their help, you will be able to access wines of limited availability and place requests for wines ahead of release. You can educate the owner/manager on your palate preferences and get help exploring wines you may not know. And you should be able, with little difficulty, to order any wine you see written up in this column.

Happy hunting!

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About Wine Adviser

My column is all about sharing the joy of exploring all the world of wine. I want to guide people to make inspired choices, and encourage them to try as many different styles of wine as they can. I will always seek out the best wines at the best prices. Wine Adviser runs on Sunday in Pacific Northwest Magazine.


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