So you like wine and want to save money? Welcome to my world! Check out these easy ways to save money on wine while enjoying every sip.
Save money on wine by knowing how much wine you go through every year and then set your budget. Next, shop for wine strategically to take advantage of holiday discounts and bulk purchase discounts. If you normally drink wine-by-the-glass at restaurants, save money by getting a full bottle or bringing your own wine. Other ways to save money on wine include drinking what you buy and buying wines from less well-known regions.
Here are 15 easy ways anyone can save money on wine.
Let’s jump into why these are great strategies to save you money on wines you love to drink for any occasion!
How to Save Money on Wine Tip #1: 1 Know how much wine you drink
The first step to saving money on wine is knowing (approximately) how much wine you go through each year. The calculation’s straightforward if you only drink wine at home.
- How many bottles do you drink each week?
If you drink 2 bottles of wine each week then you go through 104 bottles of wine each year (52 Weeks * 2 = 104).
This doesn’t take into account wine that you drink when you go out for meals at restaurants, increased bottles during the holidays (maybe a bottle with friends in the middle of the day and another for dinner during all-day gatherings), or wine that you gift (maybe you bring a bottle to a meal at a friend’s house or give a bottle as a retirement present?).
Here’s a list of occasions when you may be buying wine outside of your everyday drinkers:
- Meals with a host
- Gifts for colleagues
- Gifts for friends
- Gifts for parents/siblings
- Holiday meals
- Dinner with friends/family
- Romantic dinners
- Champagne/celebratory wines
Spend 5-10 minutes to come up with an approximate number of wine bottles you drink or gift during the year.
How to Save Money on Wine Tip #2: Make a Wine Budget
Before you make a wine budget, you need to know how much wine you drink (and gift or cellar) every year, whether it’s 15 or 250 bottles of wine. Everyone has a number!
Here’s how to do this:
- Figure out how much wine you buy every year (see Strategy 1 Above)
- Figure out how many of that total bottles are inexpensive bottles (average price you pay for everyday drinking)
- Figure out how many of the total bottles are more expensive wines (average price you pay for gift wines or special occasions)
I have a wine budget. My wine budget includes my two wine clubs, odd bottles of wines that I like to drink throughout the year, like Champagne and dessert wines, grapes for making my own wine, and winemaking supplies (like yeast and corks).
Tip: Are you a wine club member? Check out this helpful post on Are Wine Clubs Worth It?
How to Save Money on Wine Tip #3: Shop Discount Sales
Countries have different laws around marketing and promotional sales for alcohol. For example, here in the US, it’s illegal to give wine away for promotional purposes.
Instead, you’ll see sales events like:
- Buy one get one 50% off
- Buy one get one for $.05
- Buy one get one for $.01
- Buy a case, get a case for $.01
These discount wine sales are often seasonal for larger retailers and happen around the same time each year: one wine sale in the fall/winter, and another wine sale in the spring/summer.
These wine sale events are an easy way to save 25%, 30%, or even 50% of your wine budget.
Take advantage of these wine promotional events if you know how much wine you go through over the year. You’ll have money left over to buy more wine!
Ways to Save Money on Wine Tip #4: Don’t Buy Last-Minute Wine
Something ridiculous like 99% of all wine sold will be opened within 72 hours of purchase (I made that statistic up, but the actual statistic that my wine marketing professor used was very close to 99%).
The problem with buying wine last minute is that you will end up spending more money.
Think of this the same way as meal planning vs. getting takeout on the way home because you don’t have anything to eat after a busy day out.
Once you know approximately how much wine you go through (both the average, everyday bottles, and the special occasion bottles), you can purchase more of the nicer wines guilt-free when they are on sale.
Ways to Save Money on Wine Tip #5: Buy Store Brand Wines
Frugal friends have told you this for years: There’s no difference between store brands and private brands.
The same applies to wines, but with a twist.
Private label wines are wine labels that companies pay to put on bottles and sell at their retail outlets.
These are wines created for the store’s target market, often at huge volumes that take advantage of economies of scale.
You’ve heard of private label wines, even if you’ve never really thought about them. Famous private label wines include:
- Charles Shaw (2 Buck Chuck)
- Trader Joe’s Reserve
- Kirkland Reserve (US Costco Brand)
- California Roots (US Target Brand)
Did you know that these can be the exact same wines that go into the producer’s own bottles?
The wineries filling private label contracts for store brand wines still make wines under their own labels.
You’re getting the same wine quality, same grapes, and same winemakers but at a cheaper price. Take advantage of it.
Ways to Save Money on Wine Tip #6: Buy Bag-in-Box Wines
If extreme thrift is your thing, then look at alternative packaging. Bag-in-box wine gives you more wine per penny and will keep your wine fresher longer once opened than wine in bottles alone.
Drink your bag-in-box wines within the same year you purchase them.
Box wines aren’t packaged to age gracefully.
Ways to Save Money on Wine Tip #7: Stay Away from Wines with Heavy Glass Bottles
Wine marketers use heavy glass bottles as a psychological trick to get you to pay more per bottle for the wine.
The next time you are in a wine specialty shop, pick up a bottle of inexpensive wine and then go find an expensive bottle of wine and pick that one up, too.
Notice any difference in the bottle weight?
Not only is the bottle heavier, but it also costs more money to make and transport. All of this translates into higher bottle costs for you.
Now, by all means, if you’re in love with a particular wine and the bottle’s heavy, then buy it (always drink what you love).
But if you’re looking to save money on wine, a good sign the wine may be overpriced is to physically lift up the bottle.
- Is it heavy? Marketing
- Is it light? Economy
How to Save Money on Wine Tip #8: Don’t Buy Wine at Minimarts
Avoid buying wine at minimarts, convenience stores, or gas stations. Of course, this tip to save money on wine depends on your local alcohol laws.
So, if you CAN buy your wine at the gas station down the road, DON’T.
Gas stations, minimarts, convenience stores, and other shops that aren’t designed to move large volumes of wine (like a grocery store or liquor store) mark up wine and other alcoholic beverages because of limited retail shelf space.
Don’t be fooled. You will pay for the convenience of your convenience store.
How to Save Money on Wine Tip #9: Buy Wine from Discount Grocers
Discount grocery stores can help you save money on wine. Discount stores make money by selling large volumes of wine, not expensive wines. Their whole goal is to move inventory.
The more inventory they move, the greater their profit margin.
The best way to move inventory is to price it low. Who doesn’t love a bargain? Here on the west coast of the US, we have Grocery Outlet as a discount chain.
Helpful Tip: Here’s a great post I wrote on how discount stores make money on wine, even though it’s really inexpensive: why Grocery Outlet wines are so cheap. The business model is brilliant!
How to Save Money on Wine Tip #10: Shop Holiday Wine Sales from October through December
Wines go on sale in the months of October, November, and December leading up to the holidays.
This is the best time of year to buy wine. Wine shops, wine websites, and wineries know that this is an important time of year. Wine drinkers buy more wine to host dinners, to attend dinner parties, and to gift over the holidays.
Take advantage of significant discounts during this gifting season to stock up on your favorite wines and save money on wine.
How to Save Money on Wine Tip #11: Buy Bottles of Wine, Not Individual Glasses at Restaurants
If you’re going out for dinner with other wine drinkers, buy a bottle of wine for the table instead of separate glasses. This will cost less per serving and the wines will likely be better quality than the by-the-glass options.
Ways to Save Money on Wine Tip #12: Bring your Own Bottle of Wine to Restaurants
Call ahead and see if you can bring your own bottle to a restaurant (corkage fee). Some restaurants allow you to bring your own wine to drink with your meal. You can call ahead to ask if this is allowed.
This can be a bargain if you have a special bottle of wine you hope to share with your table.
The restaurant will likely charge you a nominal fee called a “corkage fee” if you bring in your own wine ($10+ USD depending on the restaurant).
Ways to Save Money on Wine Tip #13: Buy a Case of Wine Instead of Bottles
Once you know how much wine you drink each year, take advantage of discounts if you buy a half-case or full case of wine.
Here in the US, wineries give you discounts if you buy a case of wine, which is 12 bottles.
A common discount if you buy a full case of wine is 10-20%.
If each bottle costs $20 USD, then you’re essentially getting 1-2 bottles for free if you buy the case and get the discount, saving you $20-$40 dollars. Nice!
Don’t live near a winery? Not a problem!
Ask your local bottle shop or liquor store if you can get a discount for buying a case of wine.
They may be able to give you a discount working directly through their sales distributor.
How to Save Money on Wine Tip #14: Shop Mid-Priced Bottles
Holistically, the wines with the best quality for the price are bottles in the $10-$20 USD dollar range.
The price of wines varies wildly by country, so look for that third tier up the quality ladder or two levels up from the cheapest wines.
From the least expensive to this target tier, you have:
- Extreme Value (cheapest wine in the store) (under $4USD)
- Value ($4-$10 USD)
- Popular Premium (Decent wines that taste like the grapes in them) ($10-$15 USD)
- Premium (Good quality wines with terroir) ($15-$20USD)
If you can taste the quality level of the cheapest bottles of wine (no judging if that’s what you drink) and don’t want to drink bag-in-box or tetra pack wines, then the mid-priced bottles will deliver the best value for price.
These are perfect wines for everyday drinkers and casual dinners.
You’ll probably want to spend a little more for nicer occasions, but the quality won’t change much moving up the ladder.
How to Save Money on Wine Tip #15: Buy Wines from Less Well-known Regions
You’ve heard of Bordeaux and Napa Valley Cabernet. But have you heard of Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendoza or San Juan, Argentina?
Explore wines from regions you’ve never heard of if you want to save money on your next bottle.
Vineyard land and access to less expensive labor make wines from Argentina cheaper to produce than wines from Bordeaux or Napa Valley. This translates into lower per-bottle costs.
BONUS – How to Save Money on Wine Tip #16: Drink the Wines You Have!
A big mistake that people make is not drinking the wines that they have. Most wines in the world are meant to be poured and enjoyed young, especially everyday drinkers.
Drink all of your inexpensive wines the same year that you buy them. Everyday wines lack the intensity and concentration of flavor to help them age gracefully in the bottle.
If you sit on these wines for too long, they’ll stop tasting fresh and you’ll probably end up pouring them out, which is the same thing as pouring money down the drain.
Scandalous! If you buy wine, drink it.
Final Thoughts – Saving Money on Wine Is Easy!
Saving money on wine starts with knowing how much wine you drink and how much money you spend on wine in a given year.
Saving money on wine doesn’t mean that the wine will be of lower quality.
If you’re not into extreme-value wine, you can still strategize your wine buying and take advantage of seasonal and bulk discounts to get the wine you love at the best possible price!
With a little budgeting and planning, you can always have wines you’ll enjoy ready to fill your glass.
Thirsty for More?
I’m thrifty by nature, and always looking for a deal. Here’s a great post on how to save money wine tasting, which you should absolutely check out before you hit the tasting room.
One of the best ways to learn about wines is through wine flights – which you can do at home for much less than it costs to go out. Here’s a helpful post on wine flights to get you started.