How to find good deals on wine

Washington PostJanuary 19, 2013 

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Reporter Fred Tasker doing story on big interest of Millennial generation in wine. Lindsay Panzek 29, from Pinecrest, looks over wines for selection at the Total Wine on North Biscayne Blvd. April 6, 2011

WALTER MICHOT — Miami Herald Staff

Because there’s a wine producer to meet every need and taste – from Trader Joe’s “Two-Buck Chuck” to the priciest Dom Perignon – finding a deal on a great bottle of wine can be tricky. We’re looking for everyday, flavorful table wines that don’t cost much more than $15. Is that too much to ask?

“No,” says Wine Enthusiast’s executive editor, Susan Kostrzewa. “We’re committed to wines that regular people can afford and find.” The magazine gives high marks to great wines that won’t bust your budget. The magazine’s site, winemag.com, lets you search for highest-rated wines at any price.

Kostrzewa gave us tips on how to shop for wine bargains:

Look for older vintages. Retailers need to move product relatively quickly, year-round, to make room for newer vintages or the current year’s wines. So ask whether there are vintages the store is trying to move out.

“In most cases, you don’t even need to cellar them,” Kostrzewa said of older vintages, meaning you can drink them the day you buy them. She said it’s always a good idea to look for higher-end or mid-priced wines when they’re being moved to make space.

Shop region, not brand. A lot of wine lovers shop for brands that have good reputations. But Kostrzewa recommends that you shop by region and look for lesser-known producers located near the famous ones.

“I encourage people to look for not-so-well-known brands, especially with higher-end wines,” Kostrzewa said. “If a certain producer is highly rated, look to the same region for other producers that might be producing the same wine as their neighbors.” For example, the magazine rates Echeverria 2008 Reserva Syrah highly, calling its $13 price “unheard of.” More famous brands from the Maipo Valley in Chile would cost much more.

Shop emerging regions. Everyone knows about Tuscany and Bordeaux, but there are many regions and countries that make great wines that rival Italy and France. Because there are more wine drinkers in America than ever before, new regions of the world are producing and exporting to meet the demand.

“I feel strongly about trying wines from emerging regions: Argentina, Austria, Portugal, Greece, South Africa. Now is the best time to buy value wines from these emerging regions.” The magazine just rated Caves Velhas 2008 Catedral Reserva, a Portuguese red that sells for $10, as one of the top 10 “Best Buys” of 2012.

Know your retailer. If you’re buying at a neighborhood wine shop, get to know the owners and build a relationship. So much of finding great wine is based on timing and good recommendations. An expert at a store can help you choose value wines.

Buy in bulk year-round. There’s no bad time to buy wine. Kostrzewa says demand is high year-round, so you can find deals year-round, unlike seasonal drinks and foods. But to ensure a great deal, you should buy in bulk. How much bulk?

“A case or two of a wine is probably doable; then you’re not making a huge commitment,” Kostrzewa said. Many retailers, including grocery stores, give discounts if you buy six bottles. Chances are, if you’re buying one bottle, you could use six. Buy it knowing you’ll be drinking (or gifting) wine in the future.

Shop online with caution. Kostrzewa recommends shopping online, but freight can add significant costs to a purchase. Many Web retailers offer free shipping if you buy in bulk. Kostrzewa recommends Wine-searcher.com and Snooth.com – the sites often offer free shipping.

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