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10 ways to save on wine

Wine makes everything better, except for maybe your wallet. But take hope! Here are 10 good ways to save money on your tipple.

By Smart Spending Editor May 16, 2013 6:24PM
This post is by Danielle Warchol of

MSN Money Guest siteYou don’t have to be a wine expert to get nice quality wines at a decent price. There are plenty of wonderful wines that don’t cost an arm and a leg, and no matter what level your wine expertise, there are some simple steps that you can take to save money without compromising on quality. Here are 10 that you can take to save money the next time you purchase wine.

Image: Wine © Carlos Davila, Photographer1. Don't buy by the glass
If you’re at a restaurant with a couple of friends or family members, it might seem tempting to buy wine by the glass instead of ordering a bottle. Most bottles of wine will give you four or five glasses. If you buy a $25 bottle of wine, that should be about $5 a glass which is much cheaper than the $7 (or more) a restaurant may charge for a single glass of that same wine.

2. Try the house wine
Lately, more restaurants are trying to offer a house wine. House wines are often cheaper than ordering bottled wines, but the wine is often just as good. If you’re a casual drinker, what’s the harm of trying out the house wine? Sometimes it can be cheaper by as much as $10.

3. Take advantage of liquor store deals and sales
Like most stores, liquor and wine stores often offer deals or sales on their merchandise. Sometimes they’ll have holiday sales to entice people into buying liquor for celebrations or presents. And sometimes they just want to get rid of old stock and will mark down cases of wine that didn’t sell well. There are also occasions where they’re trying to promote a new wine or winery and will offer wine at a significantly discounted price. You should always check out the sales at the liquor and wine stores near you to see if you can score any good deals.

4. Compare prices
When it doubt, the best way to save some money on wine is by comparing prices in different stores. A supermarket may have a specific wine for a less expensive price than a liquor store. A simple search online will provide you with a variety of different stores and potential prices. And these days, obviously, there's an app (or several) for just that.

5. Buy by the case
Do you have a certain wine that you can’t get enough of? Maybe you buy one or two bottles every time you go into the liquor store. If this is the case, consider buying a case of the wine. As with many purchases, sometimes it’s more cost efficient to buy in bulk than to buy single serving portions, especially if the wine you enjoy is available at a warehouse store. Before you buy individual bottles, check the case price to see if it’s a better deal, especially if you know you're eventually going to drink that much.

6. Buy a cheaper brand
When it comes to wine, a more expensive bottle isn’t always better. Sometimes a $6 bottle of Riesling may taste the same as a $60 bottle. There have been plenty of studies testing whether people can tell the difference between expensive and inexpensive wines and most casual drinkers can rarely tell the difference. So when you go into the liquor store, don’t immediately assume that a $10 bottle will taste horrible or that a $30 bottle will be amazing.

7. Avoid imported wine
Imported wine tends to be more expensive than wine from domestic wineries. While plenty of people prefer wine from France or Italy, it’s sometimes marked up by at least $5 just because it’s from a known “wine country." If you’re looking to buy a cheaper bottle, check out the wines from wineries located in New York or California.

8. Attend wine tastings
Many liquor stores will often hold wine tastings to attract new customers or to support local wineries and vendors. Wine tastings can be a great way to figure out if you’ll like a certain type of wine before you spend money on it, but it can also sometimes lead to great discounts. Many vendors will offer their wines for a significantly cheaper price at a wine tasting hoping that you’ll be persuaded enough to buy a bottle or two.

9. Buy from new and emerging wineries
As certain wines become popular, the price per bottle starts to rise. Liquor stores and wineries know that if people like something enough, they’ll often spend an outrageous amount of money to own it. If you’re trying to cut back on your expenses, consider trying some of the new wines your local liquor store or wine bar may be offering. These wines are promoted at a fairly cheap price (usually between $7.99 and $12.99) and are often just as good as other popular wines. Plus, trying something new might cause you to find a new favorite wine.

10. Avoid popular wines
Whether you’re at a restaurant or in a liquor store, certain wines are going to be more expensive than others. Popular wines such as chardonnays, shirazes, merlots, or pinot grigios are often marked up in price because those are the wines people immediately ask for. They’re common wines that even the casual drinker knows about. Therefore, they’re often set at a higher price than less popular wines such as Rieslings, muscatos, or chiantis.

Got any other money saving tips when it comes to buying wine? Let us know in the comments below.

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May 17, 2013 12:36PM
"Avoid imported wines"? Nice plug for the local industry. I buy real Mosel Riesling from Germany at the Aldi supermarket chain - for five dollars a bottle. Can Gallo, Mondavi and their California ilk offer the same price? Of course not. They must appear "exclusive" and "limited edition reserve" to the yuppies.
Jun 24, 2013 3:11PM
Actually some of the imported wines are well priced. I would avoid Bordeaux and Burgundy wines for the most part as they tend to be overpriced compared to their counterparts both in an outside the US. Same with the "Super Tuscans" as they can be very pricey as well. My recommendation if you want good wines at good prices would be to explore wines from Spain, Argentina, and Chile. Spanish wines are particularly good when shopping for red wines and dry sparkling wines. German wines are not the best for lower prices since the actual labor cost to make a good Riesling from the Mosel or Rhine regions is relatively high. (Steep slopes and high wages) French wines from the southern wine regions (Think Rhone) can be had for half the price or less of a Bordeaux and be of excellent quality. For my day to day drink I many time opt for the store brands at Costco or at Trader Joe's. Pricing has gone up and "premium" wines are offered less frequently since wine price have gone up recently. Still they tend to be good value without a prestige label. Most of the wines in my cellar are California wines and for the most part are a good value for a pricier wine than what one can get from France or from Italy. I do have wines from all the countries name above and with a little competitive shopping and tasting one can find values from around the world. 
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