For years, people shopping at their local wine shop for a gift or a bottle of wine to pair with a holiday meal shared with friends and family faced the fear that other people in that very same wine shop might discover their terrible secret: they don’t know all that much about wine.


Okay, they know the basics — the kind of stuff that almost everyone knows, right? Wine is sourced from grapes. The grapes and/or grape juice go through some sort of fermentation process — that’s how they get the alcohol in there. France and Italy are known for wine. California, too.


At Northstar Liquor Superstore in Johnstown, we see that fearful look on our customer’s faces almost every day, and we have good news for them, for you, and for everyone else who has ever felt stressed, anxious, or uncertain about how successfully they are selecting a bottle of wine: it is officially okay to purchase wine by label shopping.

Wine Shopping Then Versus Wine Shopping Now

It’s true that there was a time when, in general, wine drinking and purchasing was a bit more of a hobby, and many people who were regular wine drinkers knew a bit more about wine than the average consumer today might. However, the landscape has changed and enjoying wine has become a much more casual and care-free activity in most circles. As such, the purchasing experience should comfortably fall into the same milieu, with a more accessible and inviting feel.


Furthermore, in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, when wine was taken a little more seriously (which might be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your stance), domestic winemaking was almost non-existent as a commercial venture, and a small handful of importers carefully controlled what brands were allowed to be mass-marketed in the United States. 


In the past two decades, wineries around the world have begun to import their wines to shelves near you and the West Coast wine scene has grown to rival the quality and character of most Old World wine cultures. So when you shop for wine, you’re probably looking through somewhere in the range of 10-20 times the number of options that were available even as little as 25 years ago.

A Different Approach To Consumers

And finally, the wine market has changed. If you remember tagging along with mom or dad on a trip to the wine store as a kid, you may remember the monotony of walking down the aisle staring at black label with elegant print after black label with elegant print, while thinking, “Thank God my toys don’t all look the same.”


Those days are gone, and just between us — good riddance. As more brands entered the market, winemakers sought ways to help their products stand out, and spruced up labels were fast to catch on. 


Now, many wineries are known not just for their quality libations, but also for their support of up-and-coming artists, edgy designers, and local art community investment and promotion.

Go Ahead — It’s Okay

So you see, when you shop wine by label, you’re actually participating in contemporary wine culture, the way it should be. The labels are there to compete for your attention and get you to pick up a bottle of wine so you can learn about it. The ABV, grape(s) used, and usually, a little history about the wine or winery, are all present. All you have to do is find one that sounds interesting and take it home to discover the flavors, smells, and look of the “wine label” you chose.


Of course, you can always just ask our helpful and friendly wine experts for help, ideas, or additional information, and we will gladly get you taken care of. Visit us today and shop all of the thousands of wine labels we keep in stock at Northstar Liquor Superstore.