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Save Money On Wine

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wine.jpgFrom time to time, my wife and I enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner. In the summer we tend to drink white wines, but in the winter we lean towards reds. It's very relaxing and studies show that it's healthy in moderation. However, there's no escaping the fact that wine can be expensive. At the higher end, you can spend $150 bottles of Opus One, and go up much, much higher from there. However, even if you stick to the "Great Wines Under $10" section of your local liquor store, you might find your budget stretched.

A typical a bottle of wine will serve 5 glasses. If you and a significant other drink wine 4 days a week, you'll consume more than an amazing 83 bottles a year. If your average bottle of wine is $8 (on the cheap side), you'll spend $664 a year. This translates to $55 a month, roughly equivalent to my cable television bill. The problem is that most people don't choose $8 bottles of wine. Quite often they'll choose a wine at $15 or $20 believing that they are getting extra quality for their money. Many times that's simply not the case.

Let's look at a few ways to reduce the cost of wine.

  • Buy in Bulk - Many liquor stores will give you a discount if you buy 6 or 12 bottles at a time. For 6 bottle purchases you can usually save 10%. For 12 bottles, I often see a 20% discount. The savings can really add up.
  • Look at Two Buck Chuck - If you have a Trader Joe's near you, you may be in luck. They carry a brand called Charles Shaw that is $1.99 or $2.99 (depending on location) for quite a variety of red and white wines. I'm lucky that in California, it is just $2 a bottle. It's a decent wine, but some discerning tastes might look for something better. Unfortunately, you can't get a further discount by buying in bulk. At such a low price, what did you really expect?
  • Boxed Wine - Much like the Two Buck Chuck above, sommeliers around the world will not be celebrating the essence of a fine boxed wine. However, you may find that it fits your budget well.
  • Avoid the Name - People love the big name like the aforementioned Opus One. I've talked to more than a few wine experts from Napa and Sonoma Valley who say that you can get a better wine for 1/6th the price.
  • Make Your Own - We've made our own beer, but we haven't ventured into the wine area yet. With Two Buck Chuck available to us, the motivation for making our own wine would simply be for the fun of learning a new skill.
  • Wine Aerator - One of the best ways to save money on wine is to make the most of a cheaper wine. A wine aerator is a quick way to get oxygen into the wine. If you've ever heard of letting a wine breathe, this is the equivalent.
  • Mulling Spices - My wife introduced mulling spices to me earlier this week. The mix of clove, cinnamon, and other spices really enhance a glass of red wine. This time of year it can get pretty cold outside. Mulled wine is an excellent way to warm up your insides.

I write so many words on saving money and keeping your financial life in good shape. Often my tips require some kind of sacrifice. This is one instance where the sacrifice is quite small and can lead to big savings.

[Photo Credit: KatieW via Flickr]

Posted on December 19, 2007.

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12 Responses to “Save Money On Wine”

  1. Seth says:

    I have been buying Yellow Tail or similar $7-$8 bottles of wine in bulk. However, I have been hearing better things about boxed wine recently that they can be as good as your typical near $10 bottle of wine. Does anyone have any they would recommend?

  2. tom says:

    There are three box wines I really like: Black Box, Delicato, and Pinot Evil. Black Box is probably the best of those.

  3. Lazy Man says:

    I’ve never tried Black Box, but it has always seemed a little more expensive. I’m not sure if it’s cheaper than some bottled wine.

  4. plonkee says:

    Mmmmm. Mulled wine. Actually I like pretty much any wine, but I probably wouldn’t serve boxed wine to people and I shouldn’t really drink that much myself.

  5. Lazy Man says:

    Yes, I wouldn’t serve boxed wine to other people as well. That’s more of an etiquette issue than anything else I think. For those occasions, you want to at least get something that doesn’t appear cheap.

  6. Cross the River says:

    I’ll skip my latte a day and save a lot of money over my life time BUT I don’t think I can sacrifice the wines I love, even to save a few bucks.

    Also, regarding health, only red wine offers the chemical with this property. Also, the rule is one glass is good, two is too much.


  7. Jeremy says:

    We always have a box of wine at the house. No, it isn’t what we serve at a dinner party or anything, but it is nice to just quickly pour a glass of wine with a meal after work without spending a lot of money. It is nice to be able to get 3 liters or more for the price of one decent 750ml bottle. Plus, the box can sit on your counter for a week or two as you slowly consume it without oxidizing, so that helps too.

    Unfortunately I can’t be as frugal when it comes to my whiskey, and that can be a rare and expensive treat ;)

  8. Lazy Man says:

    Cross the River, it’s not just red wine. Studies show that alcohol (in small amounts) have health benefits. Even beer can be a healthy drink.

  9. DebtyBetty says:

    I’d have to agree that Trader Joe’s has phenomenal, low priced wine. Even beyond their two-buck chuck, they have really good $5 and $6 dollar bottles too.

  10. ladygoat says:

    I really second the use of the Aerator. It can make a huge difference in improving the younger reds, taking the harshness out, so it doesn’t seem so much like a cheap wine. The Aerator itself is kind of pricey but well worth the money, in my mind.

  11. JvW says:

    mmmmm, wine. I love two buck chuck.

  12. Rachael says:

    While I haven’t had the opportunity to try two buck chuck (no wine sold in grocery stores in PA), I’ve bookmarked this post and the benefits of beer post. Great research, although I’m skeptical about beer benefits over milk. Back to the wine, in order to buy wine in bulk for the discount, PA, Jersey, Delaware usually resort to BJs wholesale.

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