The holidays are approaching, and you’d like to be able to identify a nice wine for a gift. But the only thing you know about wine is that it comes in a bottle. Or, even worse, you’re having  people over for a holiday party, and one of them prides herself on her wine knowledge — even knows what the bouquet is, and the only thing you know about that is that it isn’t flowers.

What’s a wine buyer to do?

Find a wine store you can trust, which really isn’t that difficult. The key is to ask the right questions without being intimidated. Keep these points in mind the next time you walk into a wine shop.

• Does the salesperson ask what you like to drink? Or does he or she try to fob off what’s on sale that week? A good store will try to match your taste with their inventory.

• Know what you need the wine for. Will it go with a meal (and it helps to know what kind of meal)? Is it for a party, or an aperitif? A top-notch wine store employee will be able to make suggestions for each occasion.

• Know how much money you want to spend, and don’t be embarrassed by it. A $10 bottle of wine may not be as exquisite as a $100 bottle, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be more than satisfactory.

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