Pay Less and Get More: Saving Money on Wine

Estimated read time: 6 minutes

When I was younger I thought it was the height of sophistication to drink wine, reserved for the classiest of society. Just holding a wine glass can make you feel swanky. We all like to feel a little uptown every now and then, but sometimes you might feel like the budget won't allow.

Here's the good news: you're not limited to that $2 bottle that's on the bottom shelf if you don't want to be. There are plenty of simple ways to get more for a little less. Because there are few things better than more wine.

More isn't always better

Wait, I just told you more wine is better. It is, but paying more doesn't always get you better wine.

If your friends act like they know something about wine because they heard Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe's was a good wine at a good price, hit them with this.

In 2017, a wine sold at Walmart for about $6 a bottle won Platinum Best in Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards. The wine, La Moneda Reserva , a Chilean Malbec bested 16,000 other wines from all over the world in a blind taste test.

Snap! Who's the wine snob now?

Really though, there are some things in life where spending more means better quality, but wine isn't one of them. A quick Google of "Best wines under $X" (whatever you consider a good price) will give you lots of choices.

Buy in bulk

Lots of things are cheaper when you buy them in large quantities, and wine is no exception. Many retailers offer a 20% discount when you buy a case, which is 12 bottles.

Most allow you to mix and match, so you don't have to buy a case of the same kind of wine. This is a good way to try out new wines at a discount rather than risking paying full price on an untried wine you end up not liking.

Go to the source

This will be your favorite tip because it kills two money-saving birds with one stone. Go to a winery. Great, but you don't live near the Napa Valley. There are wineries all over the U.S. I've been to wineries in such noted wine growing regions as southern Indiana and north Georgia. Really!

Not only do wineries often sell wine at a lower price than you can find in a store (because they can cut out all the middleman expenses), but many of them offer tours and tastings. I've done it several times, and it's a really fun way to spend a few hours and impress your date.

And because you get to taste the wines, you won't end up buying something you don't like.

Every day is not New Year's Eve

You don't need to crack open a bottle of 1787 Chateau Margaux which costs a cool $225,000 on a random Wednesday night. (But if you do, invite me over. I'll bring caviar). Every day is not a special occasion, so you don't need a special occasion priced wine.

Find a nice, inexpensive wine, and make it your "house wine," your go-to wine for those random Wednesday nights.

Seek out second labels

You need to have more wine knowledge than the average person to pull this tip off, but there are plenty of books and websites that can teach you what you need to know. And if you shop at a dedicated wine store the employees may be able to guide you.

Some really top tier wineries bottle wines that are considerably cheaper than their marquee wines. The second label wines are wonderful but not quite up to the level of their more expensive sister wines.

The best-known example of a second label is probably Mouton Cadet, from the renowned Chateau Mouton Rothschild winery in Bordeaux. Mouton Cadet sells for about $10 a bottle while Mouton Rothschild goes for $250.

Branch out

If you like wine you might be most familiar with French and Italian wines. And for good reason. Those countries have mastered the art and been at it for hundreds of years. And all of that history can come with a price tag.

But countries like Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile are giving France and Italy a run for their money. The best part: wines from those up and coming wine countries will save you some money.

If you're looking to buy American, branch out from California and check out Oregon wines, particularly those from the Willamette Valley. I am a dedicated Francophile for wine and anything else, but my current favorite wines are Pinot Noirs from the Willamette Valley.

Coupons!

You've never seen coupons for wine in the Sunday paper. That's because there aren't any. But there is a place that not only has wine coupons but for coupons for lots of other stuff, too, and not crummy deals like ten cents off eight boxes of cereal either.

Ibotta is a cash back App, and they have deals on wine and other adult beverages. I just checked, and a few of the deals include $3 back on Barossa Valley Estate Wine, $2 back on Edna Valley wines, and $1 back on Frontera wines.

Join the club

Winc is a wine subscription club. The site will ask you a few questions to determine what kinds of wines you like. Based on your answers, Winc recommends wines to you. If the service is available in your area (you can check by entering your zip code), you can set up recurring orders.

How often and how many bottles of wine you want to receive is up to you. The wines start at $13 a bottle and go up to $46 per bottle. Shipping is free when you order at least four bottles.

Currently, you can get $20 off your first order, and when you refer a friend you get a $13 credit. The site also regularly offers extra discounts like 4 wines for $40 and 10% off when ordering a case.

Ask and you may receive

How many crappy gifts did you get for Christmas and your last birthday? No one knows what to buy anyone else, so that's why you don't ever get any good gifts. You know why no one knows what to buy? Because no one ever says what they want!

I guess it's considered rude, and it is rude if you're asking for stuff like a Rolex or a tiara. Pretty much everyone can afford the gift of wine, so the next time you have a gift-giving occasion approaching, tell everyone who is likely to give you a gift to give you wine. Trust me, people like being told what to do. I do it for a living.

Buy the bottle

Come on! You know you're going to drink more than one or two glasses of wine at dinner. You know it, your date knows it, and the server knows it. So order a bottle of wine rather than wine by the glass. The same wine, more of it and cheaper. If you don't finish it, the restaurant may cork it for you so you can take the rest home.

BYOW

If you always drink when you go out to dinner, you have no idea how much cheaper eating out is when you don't buy drinks. Well, what's the fun in that? Why go out to dinner at all if you can't have a glass of wine or two?

I couldn't agree more. I would never suggest such a thing! But some restaurants allow patrons to bring their own bottle of wine. The markup on wine in a restaurant is huge. You're often paying close to what you'd pay for a bottle in a store for just a glass or two.

If you can find a restaurant that allows BYOW, you'll save a fortune. Often, the restaurant will charge a corkage fee (literally a fee for the server to open the wine for you), but even still, it will be cheaper than buying wine in the restaurant.

The best way to find a restaurant that allows BYOW is to find one that's recently opened. There is a lot of red tape involved in getting a liquor license, so sometimes they will open without it.

Hit up happy hour

America has churned out some great inventions, but greatest among them all are blue jeans and happy hour. I love a good happy hour, and I live in New Orleans where we have a lot. Can you get raw oysters for 50 cents each in your city? No? You should probably move here then.

The best happy hours will involve food, but we're here to talk about wine. By the glass wine happy hours are great, but it's even better if you can find one that offers a deal on bottles. The same restaurant near me with the 50 cent oysters also does half off bottles of wine. I feel like a decadent Roman Empress when I go there.

Drink, save, and be merry

Having a taste for wine can be expensive, but we all deserve the finer things in life– that includes wine. With these tips, you can drink, save and be merry. Cheers!