Booze Issue

5 wine-buying tips from Valley Cheese & Wine’s Bob Howald

Don’t be intimidated by the grape juice

At Valley Cheese & Wine in Henderson, Bob Howald tries to match customers with what they’re going to like … not what he wants them to like.
Photo: Bill Hughes

Looking for a beacon of small-business hope beneath Las Vegas’ gloomy economic cloud? Try Bob Howald and Kristin Sande. The married couple recently celebrated the fifth year of their Henderson shop, Valley Cheese & Wine, no small feat in this era of penny pinching and shuttered storefronts. How have they done it? “Customer service,” Howald says. “We try to match the customer up with what they’re going to like, not something we want them to like.”

When you walk into Valley Cheese & Wine in search of that perfect bottle, Howald puts you through a series of basic questions: Price range? What’s for dinner? Big and full or light and fruity? We turned the tables on Howald, and asked him for five wine-buying tips for the uninitiated.

The Details

Valley Cheese & Wine
1770 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, 341-8191.
Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Free tastings, Friday 4-7 p.m. & Saturday, noon-7 p.m.
Wine classes Thursdays, 6:30 p.m.

Experiment with the unfamiliar “The key to finding more affordable but delicious wines: Seek out smaller producers and lesser-known regions. They might be doing great things, but because they’re not Napa they can’t charge as much.”

In the $15-$20 range? Consider Spain. “Spain’s got bang for your buck in that lower end. The Spanish have really come a long way in their winemaking quality.”

French wine doesn’t have to bust your budget “People hear ‘French’ and they think ‘expensive.’ But we have a lot of great French wines for under $20. Any country that makes great wine makes great wine that’s affordable.”

California dreaming? “Paso Robles and the stuff right around it—Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez—is really coming up, and they’re not as well known as Napa and Sonoma. As they get more known those prices will creep up.”

Don’t be intimated “Don’t be shy; don’t be afraid; ask questions. People are intimidated by wine and they shouldn’t be—it’s just grape juice. The more you tell us, the more we can help you find something you’re going to enjoy.”

Photo of Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

Get more Spencer Patterson

Previous Discussion:

Top of Story