The expanding number of quality wines should mean you always drink the right wine for you. But you also enjoy exploring new wines, leading to hits and misses, and eventually the supply of any particular wine runs out. How do you discover new favorites without spending excessively on bottles of wine you don't like?
Fortunately, there are shortcuts to greater exploration at lesser costs. When dining out, more restaurants are offering tasting flights, made up of several small pours of wine, usually with a theme based on grape or style. Predetermined flights, if organized by a knowledgeable wine professional, are the fastest ways to try a broad variety of wines. Simply pick your theme and go. However, the wines offered are often dramatically diverse, which may or may not be helpful to your tasting strategy.
With some forethought, ordering wines by the glass is an easy way to produce your own personal mini-tasting. You'll be way ahead if you walk into the restaurant with an idea of the kind of wines you want, and there is a good chance that the wine list is available online for your perusal in advance. You can start off by always asking for "just a taste" of a couple of the wines, which may be all that you need to form strong opinions. You will find some servers that are surprisingly generous. Encourage everyone to order a different glass, switching frequently if there are additional rounds. If you are comfortable, further increase the sample size by sharing sips of different wines with others in your party. Between initial tastes, and a couple of glasses each, you will have quickly experienced a thorough tasting.
Comparing several wines side by side in a relatively short time frame will help you make confident decisions. One of the wines was the clear standout. Another complimented your seafood dish nicely. Your companion liked the French wine, which surprised you. If you notice you always prefer the first wine of the tasting, try repeating the combination of wines on another occasion, but reverse the order. This information leads to savings when it is time to buy wine by the bottle. Finer details are promptly forgotten, so save them for later by making brief notes of your significant observations.
You will pay higher than bottle price for wines by the glass. But if your goal is affordable volume tasting for ease of future decision-making, it is a worthwhile investment on the path to drinking what you like.