Wine Tips from Sommelier Eric Scheffer of Savoy Cucina Italiana, Asheville, North Carolina

November 2011

1. Consult your favorite wine shop or local restaurant. Stay with the independents. They are the ones who will take the time to get to know you and your likes and dislikes. Be honest and let them know your wine knowledge. We love to help create more wine drinkers.

2. Have a price point in mind. You can find good, drinkable wines in any price range. Expensive does not always mean better.

3. Go off the beaten path. Look for gems from South America, Italy, Australia, and Spain. Wines from these regions are generally great buys.

4. Use wine to set the mood. What is the occasion? Romance = Champagne; Comfort, Warmth, Power = Cabernet Sauvignon; Hot Summer Days, Casual = Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.

5. Be weather conscious. Reds in winter, whites in summer. But you don't always have to stick to the rules. A nice summer night complete with poultry and Pinot Noir, for example.

6. When storing wines the rules work. 58-60 degree cellars. Always on their sides. Always serve wines at proper temperatures. If you have to, it's ok to put your reds in the refrigerator 15 minutes ahead of time to give them a nice place to start.

7. I personally collect wines that have a shelf life of 5-15 years. Stick to names that have stood the test of time: Araujo, Harlan, Turley, Gaja, Conterno, Trinoro, Penfolds Grange, Grand Cru Bordeaux, and Catena Zapata. Have fun with other wines that you will pull out within 1-5 years.

8. Remember, have fun. You can't make a mistake and you don't have to spend a lot of money. Ask, ask, ask - true wine lovers love to educate and are very helpful. Become friends with your local wine shop owner.

9. Always remember my saying: "Regret Nothing in Life In Matters of Love and Food"