Wine on a Budget – Volume One

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This week represents our foray into the wine business. One of the questions that we receive most from people is how to buy good wine that doesn’t break the bank. To satisfy user demand, we have been working on a weekly series on “Wine on a Budget.”

The local grocery store can be an amazing place to purchase wine on a budget (we have only lived in states with relatively liberal alcohol laws so I can’t speak to states where you have to purchase wine from the state). The local grocery stores can offer some great values when they are discounting wine and running wine sales.

First, grocery store chains that stock wine tend to buy in quantity. Sometimes, the chain may buy too much stock that doesn’t sell (for example, high-end champagne or sparkling wine at the holidays or an unfamiliar wine that people are afraid to try). Given that the grocery store doesn’t have much room to store wine (both at the store and they don’t want to send it back to the warehouse), they will run a special and discount the wine. I have gotten some great deals this way (and when I see them, I stock up). But, none of my finds were as good as my friend’s who bought 3 bottles of $80 champagne that had been discounted to $5. I was so jealous.

Second, grocery store chains also have wine sales. One of the most famous is the two to three wine sales run by the Safeway chain of grocery stores each year (we live in California). Safeway will discount most of their fine wines by a minimum of 30% (and generally more for most bottles) and will provide another 10% discount if you buy 6 or more bottles of wine (and booze counts too). This is a great time to stock up on your favorite bottle of wine or wine from your favorite wineries. Unlike warehouse clubs where the wine stock rotates, most grocery stores have a stable collection of wine that they sell (again, being in California, our local grocery stores stock an amazing array of California wines). Even when your grocery store isn’t running one of it’s big wine sales, make sure to check out the weekly sales as there is sometimes amazing deals (and generally, the bulk discount (like 10% off six or more runs all year)).

Our local grocery store recently ran one of its sales where its nice wines gets discounted by at least 30%. My goal was to spend an average of $10 or less (pre-tax) on red wine. I am happy to say that the mission was accomplished (although my per bottle price was slightly higher as I also stocked up on nice California and Oregon sparklers). For an average of $10 or less, I ended up with some great red wines by famous California wineries (including Murphy-Goode, Clos du Bois, Rosenblum (a reserve even), Cinnabar, Mark West, DeLoach). My final tally was $177 for 12 bottles of wine (including five sparklers). We are still working our way through the stockpile.

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