The Cheapskate’s Guide to Buying Fine Wine- 100 Tools, Tips and Resources

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How do you feel about cheap wine? Better yet, how do you feel about obtaining fine wine at cheap prices? To the surprise of some market analysts, Nielsen reported wine sales last October were up 7.1 percent over a year ago. One of the fastest growing segments was wine for less than $15, especially less than $7. The best news? Cheap wines are better than they used to be.This is great news to cheapskates. But, we’ve got more - 100 tools, tips and resources to cut those prices even further. The list below is categorized and those categories are ordered by alphabet. Further, the links under those categories are ranked by alphabet as well. This methodology was used to show that we don’t favor one site over another in their efforts to help any cheapskate find good, cheap wine.

Article Knowledge

No matter whether the country is in a recession, depression or at the top of the world - the best thing to do before you head out the door with your wine cash is to check on the experts. These current end-of-the year articles focused on wine bargains for the holidays. What better place to find a great wine for an even greater price than have someone else discover it for you?

  1. Bargain bubbles that won’t burst the budget: Michelle Locke from the Associated Press passes on some advice about buying champagne for the holidays. You can afford some “frugal fizz!”
  2. Cheap wine and too much growth: An Australian perspective from Michael Pascoe on the current wine market. This article sums up the problems within the global wine industry, felt harder in Australia’s micro-economy.
  3. From the Cellar: Wines for the holidays are a bargain this year: Mark Nothaft provides some ideas for holiday wine bargains from his perspective in Phoenix, Arizona.
  4. Giving the gift of worldly wine: Dorothy J. Giater offers up some great international wine bargains from various wine superstores online for the Wall Street Journal.
  5. Kitchen ‘Rithmetic: Cheap Wine: When it comes to wine, how low can you go? Kim O’Donnel, an admitted big fan of cheap wine, shares her expertise.
  6. Raise a glass to budget bubblies: Beppi Crosariol writes from Canada, but her vision is global in this article about great champagnes and sparkling wines at even greater prices.
  7. The bargain brigade: Three savvy readers search for great wine deals: Give three people $70 and turn them loose. What do they end up with in the wine aisle? Read to find out!
  8. The Year in Wine: Highs, Lows, Bargains & Holiday Picks: Kim O’Donnel serves it up again in an interview with wine expert Steven Kolpan in this Washington Post article. What are you waiting for? Go! Great advice that will save you money.
  9. Wines for $10: Budget-friendly bottles for the times: Kathy Barthel, in a special to CTV.ca, pops off several wines from just as many countries that are (mainly) under $10. A wide selection for any cheapskate!
  10. Wine investing 2009: End of the madness: If you’re a cheapskate bent on owning a wine cellar, this article may hold your interest. Is now the time to buy? Read and make your own decision.

Auction Bids

Although you may not save that much money at an auction, the excitement of watching a bottle of a 1787 Chateau d’Yquem that belonged to Thomas Jefferson - the third president of the United States - pass hands for $56,588 might thrill you. On the other hand, gaining a bottle of 1966 Chateau LASCOMBES for a mere $100 might be more up your alley. Auctions are great ways for a cheapskate to build up a decent wine cellar, and some bargains can found. During tough economic times, some collectors try to sell their bottles for liquidity, and wine also is consigned from failed restaurants, deceased estates and wineries.

  1. Acker Merrall & Condit: This company conducts both live and online auctions for bargain-hunters. Additionally, they provide an online “quick bid tracker” so you can review your potential bids before you submit them. This company also offers wine workshops.
  2. Ambassor Cellar: Is it an auction or is it a monthly sale? Who cares? This company offers hard-to-find wines to their members in limited numbers on a monthly basis. While the prices in their ongoing campaigns are over $25 in most cases, they’re well under $100, too. Plus, you get the satisfaction
  3. Cellarnotes: This link takes you to their Bordeaux prices, gathered from The Chicago Wine Company’s wine auction price data. You can learn more about past auction prices for California wines and Port, too. While here, stick around and learn about Birth Year wines (although poor Oprah missed out with a lack of favored wines for her 1954 birth year).
  4. CellarX.com: Formerly known as CellarExchange.com, this site offers a commission-free wine auction premise. They ask for donations to keep the site going. Also, CellarX.com uses”Dynamic” auctions. This means that the bidding stops after the bidding deadline and where no bids have been received after 5 minutes. This emulates a typical Live Auction room setting.
  5. Chicago Wine Company: This is where you can download a current price list for Chicago Wine Company’s auctions, learn about their live auctions and dinners, find out how you can sell your well-stored wines and learn how to bid by absentee. You also can purchase fine wines straight from the site outside auctions.
  6. Consumables: Wine Auctions & Auctioneers: A great search option to find wine auctions locally and online. Several of the search results present auctioneers who focus on wine auctions.
  7. Wine Auctions Feel Recession’s Squeeze: As mentioned previously in the Articles list above, building a wine cellar is similar to building a portfolio (without the port!). This article can provide some insight into current wine markets from the Asian angle. You might follow up on this article with a story about Christie’s shifting a focus from England to Asia.
  8. Wine Auction Prices: Wineauctionprices.com offers actual selling prices of collectible wine from the most important commercial wine auctions in England, Europe and America. Their database contains more than 125,000 prices dating back to 2004. By subscribing to that database, you will be able to search the prices for any wine offered at auction.
  9. Wine Commune: If you can’t deal with bottles of wine over $50, then you might try this site for wine buyers and sellers. Since 1999, Wine Commune has offered a great venue for wine lovers who like fine wine without a huge price tag.
  10. WineBid: Founded in 1996, WineBid.com is the largest Internet auction for fine and rare wines. All wines auctioned are inspected and stored in a climate-controlled warehouse in Napa, California. Don’t let the wine price ranges freak you out - they’re listed in reverse. Browse down further in the left-hand column to find $25 and under wine offers.

Cheap Wine Blogs and Sites

Some bloggers are devoted to sharing their knowledge about cheap wines. Rather, cheap wines that taste good. These cheapskates may steal your heart:

  1. Cheap Fun Wines: What better way to learn about cheap fun wines that through a blog devoted to that effort? Cheap Fun Wines is on a mission to find the most luscious wines on the planet for under $20.
  2. Cheap Wine and Poetry: If you love poetry and cheap wine, you might like this blog. The blog is part of an event that occurs semi-regularly at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle.
  3. Cheap Wine Club: For a mere $25 per year, you can learn about ways to find good wines (and the wines to buy) for less than $10. One tip is free in the “How it all started” page - simply head to your neighborhood Trader Joe’s, a cheap wine mecca if there ever was one.
  4. Cheap Wine Finder: Enjoy wine articles, reviews and ratings as you search for wines under $10 and $20.
  5. Cheap Wine Ratings: Cheap Wine Ratings is all about finding good wine at affordable prices. Tim, the Quaffmaster General, focuses on wines that are $20 or less.
  6. Dr. Vino: This is a spirited wine blog with independent picks for value vino, wine maps and commentary, brought to you from a guy with a real PhD.
  7. Good Cheap Wine Guide: This blogger is on the quest for great $10 wines. The really fun part? This guy made up his own ranking system. And, it makes perfect sense.
  8. Good Wine Cheap: This link takes you to a blog within a site filled with news and reviews about good (and not-so-good) cheap wines. You’ll also find a fairly inactive forum here, but with your help that inactivity could change.
  9. Jason’s Wine Blog: Speaking of Trader Joe’s (see above under “Cheap Wine Club”), this guy is a nut about Trader Joe’s wines. “Cheapest Pinot by the glass last night $22. That’s like 5 bottles of wine at Trader Joe’s…” You gotta love this guy.
  10. The Wine Cask Blog: Three writers travel around the country for their occupations (non-profit, financial sector, software development respectively) and take the time to sample local vintages wherever possible. The best part? You can find wines here for under $10.
  11. Wine Burps: You may consider yourself a wine snob, even though you’re a cheapskate. Get over it. This blog is for people who enjoy drinking wine but who don’t like people like you - at least the snob part. If you can bear to read the blog, you might discover all sorts of ways to save money on wine.

Charity Wines

If you’re about to purchase a bottle of wine at full price, at least make sure that your purchase is going toward a great cause. That way, you’ll receive a halo and an altruistic glow that isn’t imparted by imbibing your wine. Charities and nonprofits, after all, add to a wine’s value. The list below contains everything from companies that contribute to charities to blogs presented by organizations designed to protect wine lovers’ rights.

  1. Big Tattoo Wines: Two Brothers Winery, a partnership between brothers Erik and Alex Bartholomaus, released their debut wine, Big Tattoo Red 2001, in autumn of 2002 as a way to raise funds for cancer research and hospice care in memory of their mother, Liliana S. Bartholomaus. Fifty cents from every bottle sold was donated to the Hospice of Arlington, Va., and other breast cancer research foundations. In an effort to expand this project, the brothers now produce Big Tattoo White, a Riesling blend from Germany and a Syrah from Chile.
  2. Charity Wines: This one is a no-brainer. Charity Wines partners with superstar athletes & celebrities to create fine wines and help raise funds for charities across the country. To date, Charity Wines has donated over $1.5 million to charities featuring collectible baseball, football and hockey wines.
  3. Destin Charity Wine Auction: Auctions, as mentioned previously, may be a great way to find new wines at bargain prices. When they benefit charities, that makes the event more powerful because events like this one provide wine and food at a world-class resort. Yes, the tickets are expensive, but you walk away with a world of connections among high-class patrons. It’s called buying your way into society.
  4. Drink Charitably!: This blog was create to learn more about Humanitas wines. Humanitas Winery uses their profits to find solutions to hunger, affordable housing and illiteracy. They’ve chosen America’s Second Harvest, Habitat for Humanity and Reading is Fundamental as their primary charities.
  5. Enobytes is an non-profit organization created to advance the understanding and appreciation of all aspects of food and wine, and they are devoted to educating people and promoting an exchange of ideas that benefit professionals and enthusiasts alike. Enjoy their monthly wine picks and peruse wines by price (currently 90+ wines under $20).
  6. Geoffrey Roberts Award: Say you have a great idea about how to tie wine and charity together. Submit your proposal to this award, and you may win an international travel bursary with about $6,000. The award was named for the late Geoffrey Roberts, a pioneer importer of top quality New World wines into the UK.
  7. Grape Wall of China: This is a nonprofit blog written by a dozen wine fans in China. If you’re ever in doubt about an Asian wine, you can learn more about that product through an unbiased report here.
  8. Hope Wine: Hope Wine focuses on breast cancer, autism and AIDS as their charities. It is Hope Wine’s intention that with every bottle produced they spread awareness for these causes. They donate 50 percent of profit to each cause as well.
  9. Menu for Hope: Menu for Hope is an Internet-wide event to raise money for people in need. Find wine blogs, and you’ll find an array of offers provided by these bloggers - all focused on wine and all different. This link will take you to Vinography, a site that is offering a wine vacation at Meadowood Resort in the Napa Valley as one prize for the 2008 event.
  10. Steelhead Quivira Vineyards: Steelhead is an official partner of Trout Unlimited, and they both are partners in habitat restoration. Steelhead makes a donation to TU for every bottle sold, and those donations help conserve, protect and restore North America’s Trout and Salmon fisheries and their coldwater watersheds.
  11. Wine and Roses: Look for events like this charity wine tasting to expand the benefits to your wallet. Although the tickets may seem pricey for a tasting, you also receive a meal, music and chances to win cases of wine and other prizes.
  12. Wine Without Borders: This blog is supported by the Specialty Wine Retailers Association, an organization that stands for a free market in wine, unencumbered by protectionist state laws that prevent consumers from legally obtaining the wines they want. Yes, you should care.
  13. Woodward-Graff Wines: The Woodward/Graff Wine Foundation is a California non-profit public benefit corporation with the purpose of awarding scholarships to deserving students of the art and science of wine, food and hospitality. The Foundation receives funds from the sale of Graff Family Vineyards, A-Frame Vineyard and Collaboration wines, and sales of Mr. Woodward’s book, Chalone: A Journey on the Wine Frontier. Additional funds are received from auctions of wine and wine related items and donations of cash and securities from both individuals and institutions.

Online Sales

We included a few sales pages from online wine dealers so you can get a feel of what to expect. But, we also included some interesting search pages and shopping sites where you can - with due diligence - find great bargains.

  1. Bulgarian Master Vintners: This site carries a “Specials” page, and currently they’re selling cases of 12 bottles, some for a mere $99. That’s less than $10 per bottle, and you get to sample a variety of wines. This is a great way to share wine with friends (friends who are willing to split the tab, of course).
  2. NapaCabs: This page at NapaCabs provides a special “Wine of the Month” as well as discount rates on a list of wines. Some bargains are marked down 15 percent (read that as 30 percent on two bottles).
  3. NextTag: A cheapskate could spend hours on this site, searching for the best wine bargain possible. NextTag gathers prices from various online stores so viewers can compare prices and visit the various shops.
  4. Overstock.com: Yes, they carry wine. Yes, it’s on sale because it’s…well, overstocked. You might need to wade through several items with “wine” in the description (like wine-colored boots) before you spot a deal, however.
  5. The Wine Spies: Every 24 hours The Wines Spies features one exceptional wine for sale at its Web site. These wines are available on a quantity-limited basis and always at a great price.
  6. The Wine Web: Make a weekly stop at this site to learn about their weekly wine sale. Usually only one item is showcased, but the prices often are marked up to 30 percent off retail price.
  7. VINum Cellars: What do we like about this site’s sale page? They currently offer samplers! What a great way to sample wine, especially at ten percent off the retail price. Even if you find this page later, when the samplers are gone, you’ll find some great deals on this page. Try their PETs, where a portion of the profits from the sales of this wine is donated to the San Francisco SPCA. (Over $ 25,000.00 donated to date).
  8. Wine Legacy: This online wine store offers some great bargains on their sales page.
  9. Winebuys: Want to find a good red wine under $15 or a sparkling wine under $20? Then try this site. They also offer a “Winebuy of the Week” at great prices.
  10. Yahoo! Shopping Wine Sales and Deals: More a search engine than a sale site, but who’s quibbling? Discover a site that offers wines from $5.00 and up, along with comparison shopping features and more.

Search for the Best Prices

Do you have caviar taste on a hotdog budget? Instead of driving all over the region to compare prices, use the search engines listed below to find the best and least expensive wines around.

  1. Tastings: Refine your search throughout most of the wine types in the world. To realize the full power of this search page you can combine the buttons with keywords. Price is a definite option.
  2. Vinfolio: Free up-to-date auction pricing information for more than 10,000 wines. The most complete wine auction price index in the world.
  3. Vinquire: If you have the name of the wine, you can use this search engine to find the least expensive price on that bottle.
  4. Wine eXchange: Search through this company’s extensive catalog, using only the price you want to pay if you desire (don’t be surprised if you don’t find anything under $20, however).
  5. Wine Robot: Wine Robot helps you find the wine you want at the best price. They search the top online wine stores every day, let you compare prices, then link you to the wine at the online retailers website.
  6. Wine Search Online: Categories include wine clubs, stores, producers, events, magazines, tasting, courses and more.
  7. Wine Search: Brought to you by Wine Spectator, this global search contains advanced features that help break down searches by region, vintage, price, ratings and more.
  8. Wine Zap: This site requests a free registration, but it might be worth your time. Search for U.S. retail wines by region, type, food pairings, ratings and - best of all - by price.
  9. WineFetch: Bedazzle yourself as you search by country, varietal, keywords and price ranges.
  10. Wine-Searcher: Wine-Searcher is a search engine that contains 9,364 wine-store price lists (a total of 3,271,565 offers) and a wealth of information about wine. Wine-Searcher’s information is essential for pricing and locating wines.

Tips

The following list contains a variety of tips on how to save money on wine. Some may require investments of time and/or money, but the return may be better than expected. Others require effort on your part, such as making the wine yourself.

  1. Blogging vs. the MBA: “When Gary Vaynerchuk remarked at the recent Wine Blogger Conference in Sonoma, ‘There is no reason a wine blog cannot earn $100,000 a year in revenue,’ a lot of people sat up in their chair.” Earn money doing what you enjoy - writing about wine. Expect wineries to send samples for reviews, especially if you have a good following.
  2. California Wine Club: No, you don’t need to join this club. We’re using it as an example of the money you can save while sating your appetite for new wines. This particular club carries great benefits, including up to 50 percent off re-orders.
  3. How to be a Wine Sales Rep: This article, written by a wine store owner, shows that wine reps can make money - they just need to show up! Wine reps also can purchase wine at discount prices. Think about it.
  4. How to Brew Cheap Wine: This project is more for those who don’t expect a quality wine, but who want to try an “enjoyable, cheap, and easy educational project.” hm…
  5. How to Organize a Charity Wine Auction: You can attend auctions, but you can hold them as well. Ask for a sponsor, and you’ve got a source for free wine for yourself…and to lure a crowd.
  6. Jack’s Wine Blog: Unlike the experiment in wine-making noted above, Jack is dead serious about making his wines. Besides sharing his expertise so you can learn how to make wines, he passes on various tips on how to receive free wines (like making wines with and for others with their ingredients).
  7. Signature Wines: Create a DIY wine program through this site and earn royalties. What better way to pay for your wine than through a wine-related sales pitch?
  8. Snooth: Free registration to join the world’s largest and fastest growing community of wine lovers. This is one way to learn more about wine (for free), discover new wines (for free) and explore cheap wines through interaction with other members.
  9. Today, Tonight, Tomorrow: This is the title for a list of local events in the Fayetteville Observer, located in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Note the first item on that list - it’s an open house at a vineyard that offers holiday music, treats and wine at no cost. Ho, ho, ho! Search your local newspaper to find events like this - and they don’t necessarily need to be at wineries to get free wine.
  10. Vine Smart: Why not own a vineyard? While the investment may not be cheap, it’s one way to keep a cask of wine on hand at all times. Search through this site for the vineyard of your dreams.
  11. Vineyard Fresh: One advantage to searching for cheap wines on the Internet is running across products like this one. Vineyard Fresh is a wine preservative, designed to keep that open bottle of wine fresh. If you’re a cheapskate, this tool might be worth the price if you want to save that bottle of open wine for a few weeks.
  12. Wine Cast: Wine classes and seminars cost money. Why not learn about wines for free through sites like this one? What makes Wine Cast different is that it’s a blog and podcast in one.
  13. Wine Jobs: If you like wine that much, but you’re a cheapskate, then why not work in the industry? Many of the jobs listed here would open the possibility for obtaining wines at deep discount prices.
  14. World of Wine Classifieds: Find some great deals on wine for sale, learn about wine tours and study some wine-related business opportunities all at one site.

Try Local, Buy Local

Why buy local wines? For the same reason you’d buy local foods - to help cut environmental waste through long shipping routes and packaging. But, there are other reasons to buy local - especially when you expected a cse of Cabernet under the tree, but it didn’t arrive, thanks to a snow storm. Another reason is price, as you’ll save on shipping costs and packaging prices when you can drop by your local favorite winery.

  1. Arizona Vines and Wines: Find a site like this for your state, and you’re in business. This site was creted to promote the Arizona wine scene. You’ll find events, maps and more - all centered around promoting this state’s wine industry.
  2. Birmingham Wine: If you can’t find a wine site for your state, then try to find a site centered on a city near you. This site, which focuses on Birmingham, Alabama’s wine scene, provides locals and visitors with news about events and sales throughout and around Birmingham.
  3. Briefs: Want to help the environment? Buy local wines: Articles like this one in the Tampa Bay online newspaper might convince readers to spend more time enjoying their local wineries and wines. This article provides a punch by offering an example of a local wine - for a mere $15.
  4. Choose Local Wine: This article, offered up by GreenYour, is one of the best articles we’ve discovered on why you should buy local wine. One of the best reasons for a cheapskate is the lower price for shipping.
  5. Drink Local Wine: If you’re going to eat local, why not drink local? Writers from throughout the U.S. offer their insights into their state wines. Only seventeen states are represented at present, but you might bookmark this page and return…buying local is building steam.
  6. Local Wine Events: This is one of the hottest wine sites around, as you can search for wine events locally or in an area where you plan to travel. Fine wine tastings, wine dinners, cooking classes and more, all designed to save money in gas and in wine consumption.
  7. Monterey Wine Festival: This is just one festival out of many, but one of the best in the country. This serves as an example of one way you can sample various local wines without pinching the wallet.
  8. NapaValley: This site is an example of one of many sites that offer an overview of a particular area’s wine offerings. Use sites like this to save money in gas and to find special deals offered by various local wineries.
  9. Novus Vinum Tastings and Events: Find local wine events, including wine tastings, winemaker dinners and more in the U.S., London and Paris.
  10. Woodinville Weekly: One way to discover information about local wine events is to check with area online newspapers. This paper, which covers the Woodinville, Washington area, provides a fine example of local event listings.

Warehouses

How to find a good price? Look for supply in bulk. That’s the idea behind wine superstores and warehouses. Now, many regional wine superstores have gone online to offer their deals nationwide. Try the following stores on for size, or at least for price comparisons, but be sure to read each site’s policies before you order. They may not ship to your state. Remember that the closer you live to one of these warehouses, the less expensive the shipping costs if the wine is delivered.

  1. Astor Wines: Their landmark store is located in Greenwich Village, New York, but you can peruse their store online and order from over 200 brands of Sake as well as their best wines on sale under $10.
  2. B21 Fine Wine Superstore: Based in Florida, this wine superstore has been passed to the current third-generation owner. The facility includes a 5,900-square-foot warehouse connection with rows of cases stacked from floor to ceiling. Expect below-market prices.
  3. BevMo!: With 93 superstores throughout California, you can bet that this store carries some real bargains. They made a name for themselves in 2007 when they ran a sale where customers could buy one bottle of wine and get the second bottle (of the same wine) for five cents.
  4. Binny’s Beverage Depot: This store is in 21 Chicago locations, and they ship to many states. While they carry a great supply of wine, you can take advantage of weekly specials on all types of alcholic beverages.
  5. Sam’s Wine and Spirits: Located in the Chicago area, this warehouse offers more than discounted prices and shipping. They feature reviews, food pairings and wine of the month clubs.
  6. Shopper’s Vineyard: Located in Clifton, New Jersey, this store is committed to providing customers with the finest selection of unique wines and quality spirits available at discount prices.
  7. Super Wine Warehouse: Browse through over ninety wines in this superstore collection. The discounts are deep here.
  8. The Wine Club: This store offers the world’s best wines at great prices at three retail California locations and online. This store prides itself on “Futures” and “Pre-Arrivals,” which may be worth the price to have the first bottle of Haag Brauneberger Riesling Kabinett 2007 on the block.
  9. Total Wine and More: Wowee, Zowee - every store in the Total Wine chain carries about 8,000 different wines. This makes Total Wine & More the largest independent fine wine retailer in the country and the only major fine wine company to operate in multiple states. Your benefit? Savings.
  10. Wine Express: Expect more than discount prices through this site. WineExpress.com is the exclusive wine shop partner of The Wine Enthusiast catalog and Web site, which provide quality wine accessories and storage for over 25 years. It’s only natural then for them to have teamed up with a great wine shop to bring their customers first quality wines at value prices.
  11. Wine Warehouse: This company prides itself in offering excellent wine at the lowest prices in the Florida market. You buy by the case at lower than retail prices.
  12. Wine Warehouse, Inc.: Founded in 1994 by David and Elizabeth Souza. Wine Warehouse consistently offers some of the lowest prices possible in the Mid Atlantic on premium wine and beer.
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