Although the quality of a bottle of wine is never determined by it’s price (sorry wine snobs) there are a great deal of amazing wines that cost more than $20 a bottle. But just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you should miss out on an exceptional wine experience anymore than you should miss out on a nice meal in a fancy restaurant or a luxury vacation, it simply requires a bit of planning.
Below I’ve compiled a few solutions for those of you looking for creative ways to try wine at a (slightly) higher price point without breaking the bank.
Catch it on sale. Most chain liquor stores have frequent and awesome wine sales. For instance Binny’s, a popular chain in Chicago, always has bottles of wine on sale like this lovely Cabernet Sauvignon and this equally yummy Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. To find these and other reasonably priced wines all you have to do is click on the tab labeled What’s On Sale. It appears they’re having a January wine sale right now so, uh, get to clicking Chicago Lushies.
For my California dwellers, the liquor store chain Total Wine and More also has a section labeled Deals on its website. Currently they’re offering 20% off Portugese, French and Italian wines which means you can score a $24 bottle for like $19. Not including tax.
Attend wine shop tastings. On average a tasting is about $15. Finger food like cheese and crackers is usually included and you’re able to partake in a solid pour of 5-7 seven wines. Most wine shops offer up some pretty pricey bottles for tastings and you can always do a bit of research and check before you purchase. On average expect to try wines that cost about $30-$50 a bottle.
Pro Tip: If you decide you really like a particular bottle of wine but it’s out of your price range, ask the sales clerk for a similar recommendation within your budget.
Buy in bulk. Not really my style but it’s a definite money saver. A good option for those of you just starting out is BevMo’s 5cent wine sale. The concept is simple: Buy one bottle of wine for regular price and get an additional bottle of the same wine for 5cents. Do your research, find a bottle $40 and under and get two for the price of one.
World Market is also a great place to shop when buying wine in bulk. The retailer offers 20% off your total purchase if you buy four or more bottles. So, if you buy 4 bottles of wine between $21 and $25 you’ll pay, max, $20 a bottle.
House wine by the glass in a restaurant. Do some research, find a restaurant that actually cares about its wine list from top to bottom (many of them do, this is not a rarity) and order away! One of my favorite restaurants, LaLa’s Argentinian Grill has an excellent Malbec as its house red. By the bottle its about $24 but by the glass it’s only $6.50. Cecconi’s in West Hollywood offers a multitude of house wines by the glass for under $20, by the bottle those same wines range from $50 to $85.