A stellar bottle of wine can easily cost you more than $50, but you don’t have to break the bank to buy top-rated vino. Pricey wine often reflects the value of a winery’s real estate more than the quality of the wine itself. But don’t worry; you don’t need to be a certified sommelier to find a bargain in a wine store. If you know how and where to shop, you can find great wine under $10.
First stop: a wine tasting. Wine shops and wine bars often have free or low-cost wine tastings to attract customers. Wine is all about personal preference, so don’t let wine snobs scare you off. Until you know what you like, you’ll have a hard time finding a wine you enjoy. It’s perfectly acceptable to prefer the taste of a white zinfandel to a pinot noir. Trying a bunch of wines at a wine tasting will help you gauge what works with your palate. Be sure to take notes. You might not remember all the wine mumbo-jumbo later, when you’re ready to shop.
Let the wine gurus be your guide. When shopping for a wine, use the wine shop employees as resources. Let them know what you like, what you’re looking for and how much you want to spend. Wine shop employees are usually familiar with all the wines they carry and can help with food pairings. If you can’t find a living, breathing person to help you, trust the shop notes displayed next to the bottles. Shop owners are very diligent about describing their wines and picky with their recommendations.
Broaden your search to non-traditional winemaking regions to get a great deal. While France, Italy and Northern California are all famous for their winemaking skills, regions like Argentina, South Africa and even Long Island have been know to put out some award-winning wine at cut-rate prices. Choosing a bottle from a smaller, lesser known winery can also snag you a great value.
One last tip: Don’t overlook grocery store wine aisles. Grocery stores carry a wide variety of wines at many affordable price points. Some large chains will also give you a volume discount for buying a half dozen bottles.