At Whole Foods stores across the country, the wine selection includes bottles ranging in price from $2.99 to $1,000. To help shoppers choose, stores post descriptions. They also host classes and tastings.
"We want to expand their thought processes," said Brian Welter, regional associate specialty coordinator for Whole Foods Markets in Miami.
Investing more than a few minutes on wine buying represents the time-versus-money tradeoff consumers are constantly making. If it's quality they're after, they may ignore lower-priced option even when they offer equal or superior features. But if they're primed to pick up value, they'll disregard higher-priced selections, even though they might better suit their needs.
So here, industry experts give some guidelines on maximizing quality while minimizing price.
Wine: Welter says he's constantly asked, "What's the best bottle for $10?" At the moment, he recommends South American wines, particularly Argentinian Malbecs. From France, choose wines from the Cotes du Rhone region. Don't try to find a low-priced Pinot Noir. "It's a difficult grape to grow," he said.
Steak: Look for cheaper cuts and learn to correctly cook them, said Derrick Roberts, a chef at the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach. Tri-tip, hanger steak, flank and skirt steak are great seared quickly on the grill and then sliced. Shoulder, short ribs or chuck flap are best stewed with vegetables until soft. Don't be afraid to ask the butcher for sales and specials.
Cars: For daily driving — getting from home to work — vehicle break-down stats won't vary greatly across manufacturers, said Gregg Fidan, publisher of Real CarTips.com. Pick a price point and remember that sticker price is more negotiable for some brands. Check TrueCar.com to see average lows. Also, never buy a new model immediately after its introduction and always make offers at the month's end, when dealers are meeting quotas, he said.
Sunglasses: Look for two basic features when shade shopping, said Edward Beiner, who owns 12 eyewear boutiques in Florida. You'll want UV protection, which shields your eyes from the ultraviolet light causing wrinkles and cataracts, he said. Also get a properly ground lens for accurate vision. Those are made from either CR-39 glass or polycarbonate.
"A person might ask, 'Do I need to spend $400?' " he said. "No. But stay away from glasses that are mass-produced because they're unsafe."