10 Tips to Save Money When Buying Good Wine

Red wineIf you’re pinching pennies, then buying wine for dinner might not be high on your list of priorities. My husband and I are also on a budget right now, but we’ve made room in our spending enough to have wine every night at dinner.

Why?  Well, obviously we love drinking wine (or we wouldn’t be spending the money on it). Having a glass of wine with dinner is almost a ritual at our house, and I’d be sad if we had to cut it out.

Another major reason is that, when drunk in moderation, many experts agree that wine is surprisingly good for you. MSNBC reports that thanks to the phytochemicals in red wine, it’s been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and slow the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s. Wine is also high in antioxidants.

NPR recently profiled the book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, by Dan Buettner. I was fascinated by this book because Buettner scoured the earth looking for pockets of people who were living long, happy and healthy lives.

Do you know what he found out? The “blue zones” all had similar characteristics. The people living in these areas got plenty of exercise, they ate tons of fruits and vegetables. And, many of them (such as the people in Sardinia) drank wine daily.

So, now that I’ve sold you on the health benefits of wine, how can you fit it into your budget?

1. Go With a Boxed Wine
Boxed wines have come a long way in recent years. In fact, almost all the wine I buy now is out of a box because not only is it much cheaper than bottled wine, it’s also much better for the environment (since many recycling facilities can’t handle green glass). Boxed wine is easy to recycle.

Boxed wine generally contains four bottles’ worth of wine. I usually buy Corbett Canyon Merlot, which is $9 per box. This means I’m essentially paying $2.25 per bottle of wine.

Another boxed wine I really enjoy is Bota Box, which usually sells for $16-$20 at most major grocery stores. Even at this price you’re still only paying around $4-$5 per “bottle.”

Another big advantage to buying a boxed wine is that it doesn’t allow air to touch the wine. Air quickly destroys the flavor of wine, which is why you need to drink a bottle within a day or two after you open it. If you can’t drink it fast enough, the wine is wasted.

Boxed wines stay fresh for six weeks. So, less is likely to get wasted because you have a lot more time to drink it.

2. Buy Wine By the Case
If there’s a bottled wine you really love and drink regularly, then buy it by the case. Most stores will give you a 10% discount when you do so.

3. Buy Wine from the Winery
Visiting a winery is a great way to discover new wines. It’s also great as a fun, cheap date idea or even a romantic wedding anniversary idea for couples. Although prices will probably be comparable to your local wine reseller, you might save with an extra discount if you buy a case.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Cheap
One of my favorite bottled wines is Banrock Station, an Australian wine. It’s smooth, flavorful, and a steal at $5 per bottle. Banrock Station can also be found in a box (although I haven’t been able to get a hold of one yet here in Michigan).

Many people think you have to spend a lot of money to get good wine. This is dead wrong. Wineries have started making some excellent wine at lower price points.

Visit your local wine merchant. They can usually help you find a good wine for a low price. And as an additional tip, look for daily deals on wine at Wine.Woot.com, part of the Woot! daily deals site.

5. Know Your Countries
Spain, Australia, Chile and Argentina all make great wines for a good value. Spanish tempranillo is another favorite variety of mine, and you can usually find it for $6-$7 per bottle at your local grocery store.

6. Take Notes
If you find a wine you love, write it down in a little notebook. Take a sip of a wine you can’t stand? Write it down. This will prevent you from buying that same dud in the future, and remind you of the wines you truly want to spend money on.

7. Hit up Trader Joe’s
If you’re lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, then raise your hands in celebration. Trader Joe’s is  the MECCA of cheap, tasty wine.  After all, how can you beat $1.99 a bottle?  Head over to Trader Joe’s and start experimenting. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you discover.

Final Word

Wine is no longer a pricey treat for the occasional dinner party, and with many vineyards producing high quality, low cost wines, it can fit easily into almost any budget.

Do any of you have some savvy tips on how to save money on wine? Are there certain local brands that are known for their quality and price?  Let us know in the comments!


(photo credit: isante_magazine)

  • http://www.wellnessonless.com/ Stephanie Taylor Christensen

    If you want to save on wine without going too cheap, you should also check out this great site called Accidental Wine (www.accidentalwine.com). Basically, it partners with wineries to buy their inventory that they cant sell for full retail price bc of label errors, graphic design mistakes, etc. It’s definitely not dirt-cheap, but cheaper than paying full price if you want to get pretty good bottles for less!

    • Heather Levin

      Stephanie, that’s a great resource. Thanks so much for writing it in!

  • Lainie Petersen

    Go to free wine tastings in your area. Both small and large wine retailers offer them on a regular basis. Not only will you get to slurp some good wine for free, you can also try a wine before you buy it, ensuring that you don’t end up with something you don’t like.

    Another tip I learned from my mom was to pour left-over wine into baggies. These can be frozen and use for cooking later. Waste not, want not!

    Thanks for this post!

    • Lainie Petersen

      2 more things: Get on the mailing list of your local wine and liquor stores so that you know when they schedule a tasting. Also, if you live in an area with vineyards/wineries, keep in mind that these are not typically the best places to buy wines, as they may deliberately keep their prices high so as to not compete with their retailers. However, they can be a good source for odd lots and older wines that they wish to get rid of cheaply.