Don't know the difference between a Vouvray and a Viognier? Afraid your guests won't share your love of oaky Chardonnays? Consider setting up a free wine consultation with Barrel Thief Wine Shop & Café (barrelthiefwine.com). "We find wines within your price range and just pretty easygoing styles — something everyone can like," explains McLean Turner, manager of the local chain's new location at 5805 Patterson Ave., which opened in November. The store also offers advice on food and wine pairings, as well as how much wine to buy for your big event.
And because most of us don't like to buy before we try, Barrel Thief will let you sample your selections in the shop (some fees may apply). Or take a whole bottle home at a discounted price.
An insider tip from Turner about ordering bubbly: Crémant, a sparkling wine, generally uses the same grape and the same method of production as true Champagne, but it's half the cost.