Sommelier René Baumgart’s top tips on what to look for when buying wine

Like drinking wine but find yourself always reaching for the bottle with the best label? It stops now.  We spoke to sommelier René Baumgart about what to look out for when buying wine. 


Never sure which bottle to opt for when you’re buying wine? Fed up of hovering in front of the shelves looking for the best label? Enough is enough. We spoke to sommelier René Baumgart about what to look for when you’re next tasked with buying wine. He works for the importer we source our own Vapiano house wine from so knows all about what makes a good vintage. 


René, how would you define a good wine? 

A good wine is a wine that I like the taste of. It should tell its own story and be easy to drink. 


What’s your favourite tipple “on the job”? 

I love a Riesling, from dry or fruity to the sweeter wines. But I’m also partial to sparkling wines and reds from the Rhône region.


What do you look for when you buy wine privately? 

The wine has to taste good and be suitable for storage. It’s never a bad thing if I know the winemaker personally either! (laughs) 


Lots of people go by label. Is that a good approach?

Yes, if you’re relying on a certain brand. If you know the wine or the winemaker there’s nothing wrong with looking at labels. But some of the more polarising labels could be trying to hide something or distract from the poor quality of the wine. 


Every second bottle purchased in Germany is bought at a supermarket. Is there such a thing as a “good supermarket wine”?  

Absolutely! Supermarkets and even discount supermarkets have really upped their game over the last few years and focus strongly on quality now. 


And talking of numbers: the average German pays around 2.50 euros for a bottle of wine. But when is a wine too cheap? 

Well, I always encourage people to think about what percentage of the price the winemaker takes home. Other costs such as the bottle, the label, the cap, transportation, marketing and stockist fees are all included in the price. And when a bottle costs just 2.50 euros things start looking very bleak for the winemaker. But at the end of the day, only the individual can decide what they are willing to spend on a bottle of wine. 


What’s the most expensive wine you’ve ever drunk? 

Oh, there have been a few! (laughs) A 1900 Château Margaux was one particular highlight. I can still recall the taste! A fantastic wine that told a wonderful story. I’d be happy to sample it again!


Thanks for your tips, René! If you’re after inspiration for your next wine purchase, why not peruse our Vapiano wine menu when you next drop in?

Quick checklist for buying wine


• Take your time

• Ask staff for advice and remain open to recommendations 

• Try and describe your preferences in as much detail as possible 

• Ask to sample the wine if possible 

• If there’s a wine you like at a party or a dinner, remember the name. But remember – not every Pinot Grigio tastes the same! 

• Look beyond special offers and at the quality of the shop 

• Don’t buy bottles that have been placed in direct sunlight