Overheard: “I hate sales. I don’t want to pick through all the stuff that nobody wants.”
I feel the same way about shopping, but I love value. My definition of value is do I love it and is that a fair price? When clothes and furniture shopping, I always mentally guess the price (value) before I look at the tag. Wine, however, is another matter. I’ve found, when blind tasting with no information about a wine’s origin, it is really hard to consistently guess the price of a wine. Never be fooled by price, there’s some foul wine out there for over $100 a bottle and for $3 a bottle.
Here’s some tips to find the best values:
- Buy from a trusted source. Wine can be ruined when exposed to light, heat or cold temperatures or moved around a lot. For this reason, where you buy your value wine is important. Bargain bins like Grocery Outlet will have a higher percentage of bad bottles than a wine shop that can’t afford to sell bad bottles to their customers. A nice wine might show up on Grocery Outlets’ shelves but it may actually be ruined. I wouldn’t outright accuse a winery of selling bad bottles, however, large distributors might move some wine into the supply chain for many reasons. A trusted retailer is your best bet.
- Get the Really Good Stuff for Cheap. When you belong to a winery’s wine club and they offer seasonal case discounts on wine you already like, go for it. The wine will be consistent quality. I bought some $40 Chardonnay one Christmas for $9 a bottle at the winery. The next year, that winery brought in a powerful investor, so perhaps they were moving inventory and infusing their balance sheet, who knows? Yet another reason you might see a favorite wine on super sale even at your favorite wine shop.
- Foreign wines are priced competitively and can be some of the best values. The reasons are complex but the foundation is cost of labor and land, volume, market position and marketplace goals. There is so much great wine coming out of South America for example. When I was there, my fellow tasters and I practically choked on our wine when we discovered the low price tags. The same is true for Greek wines right now; they are doing a big push into the USA marketplace, so look for them. As you are experimenting, buy one bottle at a time (be ready to run back and buy a case if you like it), try a grape you are familiar with like Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec or the region’s best known grape (Greece’s white is Assrytico). Also, once you find a producer you like, keep trying their different grapes and vintages.