Frugal Living 

My Tips for Saving on Wine

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Lazy Man has a really good post on how to save on wine and I felt I should chime in on the tips I have (some of which overlap with Lazy’s take) since some of us will be partaking in the vino this upcoming holiday season (just don’t drive!).

  • Try different types of wine: One of my favorite types of wine is a Riesling and the beauty of Riesling is that not many people are aware of it so demand is low. What happens when demand is low? Prices are low! You can get a good bottle of Riesling for under ten bucks and I remember a Smart Money piece on best wines under $10 featuring Rieslings.
  • Go to wine festivals: Wine festivals are a great way to try out local wines and learn what you enjoy without the pressure of buying a whole bottle. For a few bucks you can see all the local wineries, check out their stuff, and usually get pretty good deals on case purchases. For us we discovered we were a fan of many of the wines from Boordy Wineries, a local winery, and so we picked up a case of wines on the cheap.
  • Brand names don’t matter: Perhaps decades ago the technology was such that brand name wineries could buy the technology that smaller wineries didn’t have access to. With the latest and greatest, perhaps the big names were able to put out a superior product worth the premium. Now? With the advances in technology, I would argue that local wineries compete on the same level as brand names but add a personal touch you can’t get from a larger name. Nothing beats going to a winery and talking to the owner, it becomes an experience and not just a beverage.
  • Pair decent wines with chocolate: It’s amazing what a nice piece of chocolate can do to accentuate a decent bottle of red. The richness of the chocolate really does offset the bite of a red yet still allow the flavor to come through. This idea is really about pairing, with chocolate as an example, because having a nice pairing really adds to the experience of wine.
  • Invite over some friends! While it sounds like I’m going to talk about splitting the cost, this is really about enjoy the time spent drinking wine. You can get away with lower priced wines if the company is good since you’ll focus on the conversation and less on the wine.

There you go, enjoy those wines this holiday season and have a blast!

{ 15 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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15 Responses to “My Tips for Saving on Wine”

  1. DebtyBetty says:

    two words. Trader.Joe’s.

  2. Louis Marks says:

    5 words. Rose Regale and dark chocolate.

  3. Honest Dollar says:

    The best way to save on wine: buy a bottle for home enjoyment rather than ordering a bottle at a restaurant. The mark-ups on wine is ridiculous, sometimes more than 300%.

    If you like a glass of wine with your meal, though, or want to impress a date, figure out which wines and which labels you enjoy and order that instead of whatever is second or third most expensive on the wine menu. I often find that the wines I enjoy at home are usually some of the cheaper ones on wine menus because no one else knows about them so demand is low.

  4. Tim says:

    my tip for saving on wine: have dinner parties and you will invariably receive plenty of wine from your guests. at least we do. granted some of the wine has been passed back and forth among the community, not because it is a bad wine, but because it is good wine.

  5. Lazy Man says:

    This is a great set of tips. Visiting a winery is a very frugal way to spend the day as well. I went to a smaller out of the way one and it was just me, my wife, and the owner talking for an hour. We didn’t talk about wine the whole time, a large portion was spent talking about his kids and their upcoming wedding and our own wedding plans.

    I definitely agree with the pairing with chocolate.

  6. Al says:

    Another way to save:

    Choose wines from different countries. Move away from France/Italy/USA to Chile, South Africa, Argentina, New Zealand and especially Spain. Good and inexpensive Spanish Riojas are superb. In addition, there are a number of lesser known Spanish whites (yes, whites) and other reds.

  7. RacerX says:

    A couple quick tips as well:

    #1 Decanting Wine. Let your reds breathe a bit. it is surprising how much a young wine (ie often cheaper) will open up with some sir in a decanter. It also adds an aire of elegance!

    #2 Try a local wine tour if there are wineries near by. You don’t have to be in NAPA any more! a lot of area are growing vines and you can find some great local wines before they are discovered (ie…Cheap again!)

  8. vh says:

    Ohhhh red wine with chocolate! Yes!!! And also yes: wonderful wines from all over the world.

    Do they have Cost Plus (also called World Market) all over the country? Around here, that’s an even better place to buy wonderful wines under $10/bottle than Trader’s. Each store has a wine buyer, who usually will come out of the back offices if you ask. Every time I go in there and ask for advice on a good wine for around $10 or less, I come away with something delightful. They usually come from Spain, Italy, Sicily (!!), Latin America, Australia, or New Zealand.

    Costco groups its fancier wines in display racks and stacks the cheap stuff in boxes. Try cruising the fancy display racks for wines around $10 — the other day I found a really tasty wine there for $8 — and then go over to the boxes and look for wines from Europe, Latin America, and the South Seas. Costco is now bottling wines under its Kirkland brand; some of those are very good at reasonable prices.

  9. Rich says:

    Here are my tips: If you don’t know what to buy, go to a smaller wine shop, not the large supermarket size one. Ask for some help, preferably from the owner or manager, not the part-time kid. I tell them what kind of food I’m eating and how much I want to spend. Take their recommendation home and if you like it, go back to them next time. It means they are not screwing around with you to push slower products. The manager I talk to really enjoys finding a good wine at a good price and loves to let others know about it. If you don’t like the wine, ask at another store. Beware the sale displays in the front of the store. More often then not they are slow moving products the store wants to get rid of.

  10. Bailey says:

    Try Sam’s Club. For example you can buy a 1500 ml bottle of Yellow Tail wine for less than $10 where I live. Don’t be a victim of wine snobbery, where you let so called experts tell you what you should and shouldn’t like. If you like a wine it’s a good wine. Taste is an individual thing.

  11. Lee Landan says:

    Money…and enjoyment-saving tip: buy or save half bottles and use them for remains of that evening’s bottle that you didn’t finish.Diminishes spoilage caused by air left if you merely recork the full bottle. Often makes some reds taste even better the next night.

  12. elena says:

    Start a little wine cellar. If yoiu are buying $10 “1-2-year-young” red wine, you don’t really need an expensive wine cellar or even a wine fridge. Our little cellar that consisted of just several boxes of wine, have survived our basement, a move, and a remodeling of our new house. 5 years later the wine is as great as $50 bottles our friends buy.
    Expensive equipment is very importand for older bottles with fragile corks, but if it is a new bottle and you just going to consume it in 7 years or so, a regular basement works beautifully.

  13. Dark chocolate and port says:

    I like the book California Wine Winners. It was published annually through 2005, covering tastings for the previous year. It lists by varietal the number and type of medals won as well as the price of the wine. It is cross-referenced a number of ways (vintner, varietal, medals won, etc.) It covers many of the major and middle size California vintners. A quick perusal lets you know what’s in your price range that folks in the know have judged favorably in multiple settings. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any editions newer than 2005. That’s a great loss.

  14. Kat says:

    Can’t go to trader Joe’s I live in a State Store kind of state. So my words: Make friends with the owner. Once they recognize you you’re only a step away from discount.:)

  15. m says:

    stock up on wine when its on sale…

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