Wine is big business these days and because of its popularity, it's now available in many places besides the corner liquor store. Here are some tips on how and where to buy wine and how you may be able to save a little money, too.
- Liquor Stores - The laws about where wine can be sold vary greatly from state to state. Some states allow all alcoholic beverages, including wine, to be sold only in a general liquor store. Others allow wine to be sold at a state run store. Still others are more liberal with their laws and allow wines to be sold in grocery stores and convenience marts. All of these places are convenient sources for wine, but the help and advice you can get from the sales associates may not be the most knowledgeable.
Wine Stores - A wine store specializes in wines so the help and advice you get form the sales associates will probably be far more valuable than what you get from a liquor store. The selection will probably be greater also.
Warehouse Clubs - Bulk warehouse stores such as Costco and BJ's may carry wine depending on state laws and the ability to get a license to sell wine. Their selection may be limited, but the discounts you can receive on the wine make their wine departments worthy of a look.
Wineries - Many wineries have a storefront where you can purchase their wines directly. They may also have a tasting room where, for a small fee, you can taste several of their varietals, often paired with food. If you're close to several wineries, you can turn your wine shopping into a fun day out by visiting several wineries in one day and buying a bottle or two from each.
Online - There are many sites on the Internet that sell wine. Websites such as Wine.com and Wine Library offer individual bottles as well as wine clubs that select a couple bottles that are sent monthly. Also you may be able to get deep discounts at a site like Overstock.com where the selection changes regularly.
As a precaution when buying wine online, make sure the site is able to ship to your state before spending too much time shopping. If they can't ship to your state, you're wasting your time. Try another site.
Auctions - Auction houses often auction off wines by the case or individual bottles of sought-after wines. Usually wine auctions are for serious collectors, but they are an option for anyone. There are also Internet auction sites such as WineBid.com.
Consider buying in bulk - If you find a wine you really like, many stores will offer a 10 percent discount per case (12 bottles).
See if your wine store offers a customer card - Some shops offer customer cards that provide discounts or allow you to earn points for rewards. If the store you frequent has one, sign up for it and start saving.
If you are on a tight budget, buy (mostly) what you know you like - Even inexpensive bottles that sell for $12 to $15 are too expensive to waste regularly. Most of the time, buy what you know you like. Once in a while try a new bottle that catches your eye or was the subject of praise.
When buying for a crowd, choose two inexpensive wines and buy enough for everyone - Choose one white and one red and buy several bottles of each. One bottle usually has enough wine five glasses. Add up the number of people on your guest list, multiply that by how many glasses you think each person will drink, and then divide that by five. You should get an estimate of how many bottles you will need. This is not an exact science, so buy a few extra bottles just to make sure you have enough.