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Tips on how to find deals on delicious wines

February 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The wine industry has been hit by the recession just like the rest of us, and now their prices are beginning to show it while consumers reap the benefits.The economy is making it possible to unwind with a nice glass of wine for a lot less. It's like the deals are just growing on grapevines.

"You're getting some high-end wines where the prices are being cut so they can sell them, and you're getting new affordable brands that are being created to use up from surpluses of high-end grapes," said Food and Wine editor Ray Isle.

Isle says you'll be happily surprised by many of the price tags this year.

"You'll find new brands that are in the under $20 zone and you're finding high-end wines that are pretty well-known suddenly 30, 40 bucks cheaper," said Isle.

Food and Wine has some tips to find a good deal that pleases the palate.

First, try something from a different region than you might normally buy.

"If you look at some of the up and coming regions, like Lake County which is north of Napa, there's some quite good cabernet coming out of there," said Isle.

Big store chains may offer some deep discounts, but don't overlook the smaller shops, either. They may bring in small, hidden gems that offer great value. No matter what the size of the store, if you don't see savings, ask.

"If you don't see anything advertising a discount, see, ask the clerk, say, 'If I buy 12 bottles do I get a discount on it?'" suggested Isle. "The nice thing about wine is it lasts. You can keep those 12 bottles around for a while."

Food and Wine also suggests taking a risk and buying the specials now and then. Buy one bottle and if you like it, buy more.

And finally, consider boxed wine again. The magazine says boxed wine is back and better.

"There's kind of this new category of premium boxed wines where there's some quite good wines being sold in three-liter boxes," said Isle. "A three-liter box is the equivalent of four regular bottles, and so you can pick up something for 25 bucks let's say, that breaks down to really being about $7.50 a bottle."

Another thing Food and Wine magazine suggests is looking into joining a wine club. In that case, quality wines are sent straight to the club and the price for the middle man is cut out of the deal.