Friday, December 30, 2011

Wine Sale Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Over many years of reading about wine sales and close outs, I have noticed a number of things the consumer can do to reduce the chance of buying inferior wine. One of the most important things you must know is the cost of your wine at full retail. Then ask why this wine might be selling for less. Is it too good to be true? Do your homework and check out the vintage and importer. 

Retail cost: You can find this on the winery's website. However, there are discounts which are often volume driven. This reduces the price and the retailer still makes a good profit margin. I suggest that you track a handful of brands which you really like and keep in mind their high and low price.
Examples: Mondavi Napa Cab. H=$22/L$15.50; Domaine Chandon H+$22/L$11; Edna Valley Chardonnay H $12/L$8+.
Winesearcher.com will give you a spread of current prices for a huge number of wines. 

Why is the wine on sale?
Often wines are inexpensive because they are a year or two past the current vintage. This is the point at which you need to try a bottle to see if it meets your needs. Many red wines (and some whites) do quite well with some bottle age. If the wine is an end lot there are many possibilities for why it is being moved. Prepare to invest some time and a bit of money to get the best bang for your buck as you will have to purchase a larger amount in order to get the deal. Share this with your fellow wine drinkers and you all win.

Is it too good to be true?
Sometimes a retailer will offer a wine at discount and have only a few bottles for sale. The fine print often states that the sale is subject to inventory on hand. This kind of advertising is used to bring customers into the store. While they did have the wine at some point, though you will probably not have arrived in time to buy the few bottles in the ad. I have attended sales and been told that a wine was sold to someone prior to the sale! I feel that this is a sign of an establishment to no longer do business with.  

The most important tool a consumer can have is knowledge. Know your prices, know your retailers, and develop a relationship with the people at your local wine shop. They are a great resource for information. Happy wine hunting and keep your eyes open.

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