Use these five simple and smart sommelier tips to save money at the wine store.
Here’s the good news: people are drinking a heckuva lotta wine right now.
Here’s the bad news: people are drinking a heckuva lotta bad wine right now.
Reports from around the world show Covid-cocktail hour is still going strong with a serious jump in wine and alcohol sales – so much so, some health organizations are warning us to slow down on the hooch. Buzz-kills.
But more of a bummer, is that while wine sales are up, it’s the cheap stuff that’s flying off the shelves. In these days of economic shakiness, no one is popping the cork on the Dom Perignon. A winery insider friend that told me it’s not the fine bottles keeping his cash flowing, it’s the boxed stuff flying off the shelves.
Listen, I totally get that while the thirst may be increasing, the belt needs tightening.
But what if I told you there are some pretty easy hacks to saving money and drinking great wine?
Listen (well, read) closely, young grasshopper, I will show you the way.
Those looking to pinch a penny are going to have a tough time in the world’s fashionable wine regions.
The delicious – but high falutin’ – places like Napa, Margaux, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Barolo, Brunello…. These legendary areas can command a serious chunk of change, so if you’re hunting bargains, you’d best head elsewhere, pilgrim.
Places like Portugal, Greece, Germany, and Spain have been making seriously great wine for centuries but for a host of reasons have lost the attention of many wine drinkers. Their loss can be your gain if you’re willing to try something new (and tasty).
Try: Quinta da Avelada Vinho Verde, Portugal $12.60 LCBO #89995
This can really work if you’re from provinces like Alberta which has a private wine system. So just like you do with toilette paper, laundry detergent, and bread yeast, stock up when you see a sale.
However, if you’re one of us poor sods in Ontario, the LCBO’s $1 off + 6 bonus Air Miles promotions aren’t really barn-burners for savings. But rest assured, we can still scare up a deal with little more effort than a click of a keyboard.
Local wineries have the ability to offer some smart promotions. Anything from reduced individual bottle prices, to special incentives for the case or half case, and even the current free shipping being offered by most Ontario wineries.
Try: Malivoire “Classic & Dependable” mixed half-case of red, white and rosé on sale for $119 (reg. $139)
OK, so maybe you’re the kind of wine drinker who will only drink wine from one specific region, one specific winery. (Seems kind of limiting, but whatever). If that’s the case, consider trying out some entry level wines from these flashier wineries.
A lot of times when top-tier grapes don’t make the cut for the premium wines, the fruit is “declassified” and relegated to the winery’s second- and third-tier labels. This is very common practice in Bordeaux, Champagne, heck, even here in Ontario.
It doesn’t mean the grapes are bad – they’re just not quite good enough for the winery’s top offering. And the same people that made the best of the best also had a hand in making the slightly lower tiered juice, so the consumer benefits from that same expertise and care for a much lower price.
Try: Perrin Studio by Miraval Rosé, France $19 LCBO #13488 (Miraval Rosé is $25)
Another easy – and tasty – way to save money on wine is to juice it down. By making creative wine cocktails and sangrias, a little goes a long way. By adding juices, spirits, and other flavourings to the mix, you can double your pleasure at half your cost.
Try: Negrosé (like a Negroni, but swapping out sweet rosé for sweet vermouth).
Shake 1 ounce each of Campari, gin, and sweet rose over ice and strain into a rocks glass with one large cube. Garnish with an orange twist.
The Wine Sisters offer a really cool wine tasting we call “Alternative Grapes.” This is a workshop of relatively humble or unknown wines that can stand in for wines of much higher fame and pedigree. We might try Gamay instead of Pinot Noir, Xinomavro instead of Barolo, Crémant instead of Champagne, Carménère instead of Cabernet Sauvignon. Not only are these wines readily available, they’re a fraction of the price of their ritzy counterparts.
Try: Root 1 Carménère, Colchagua, Chile $14 LCBO #350546
As the rest of the country seems to be nearly back to normal, it looks like things here in Ontario aren’t too far behind. Hopefully that means we will be able to drink together again soon.
In the meantime, we’re offering exciting virtual wine tastings so you can learn and taste and explore with us from the comfort and safety of your own couch.