With such broad price ranges and so many disparate producers, it is always possible to find value when shopping for wine. The term value in this context can be simply defined as a wine that tastes better than other comparably styled brands and also costs less than those competing brands. Some of the easiest ways to narrow one’s search for these gems are:
1) Look for wines from parts of the world where production costs are low. These areas would include Chile, Argentina and South Africa to name a few. The labor costs in these countries are dramatically lower than in the developed world, so the pressure to charge a high price is less of a factor.
2) Look for new wineries from less-traditional producing regions. A winery’s ability to raise prices without losing sales is very much tied to its legacy and the overall reputation of its locale. A winery without a tradition of quality will always have to be more generous with its pricing in order to establish a reputation and accumulate loyal customers. Meanwhile, some of these wines are incredible values during that multi-year process.
3) Look for wines that are produced nearest to where you live. Fairly obvious, but often overlooked: wine is expensive to ship. That’s why you can find dozens of wine for $3/bottle in California but not in Alabama. When the wine can be delivered to the retailer from the winery as quickly as a pizza delivery, there are substantial savings on all sides. A similar argument could be made for mail-order wine, in which the consumer pays for shipping instead of the retailer and wholesaler. F.Y.I. a case of wine can cost over $100 to ship via UPS or FEDEX.
4) Don’t be afraid to buy back vintages at a discount. Anyone who visits a wine shop regularly has come across a discount bin that typically is filled with mostly back vintages of various wines. Depending on the size of the discount, this can sometimes be the best deal in the store. It’s trickier than most strategies, as it requires a bit of wine knowledge, but most wines last a pretty long time. The flavors may change a bit over time, but the drinking window for most wines is several years.