I indulge in wine now and then. It doesn’t hurt the bank balance too much since I’m a cheap drunk. Still, I’d rather spend less on something as intangible as champagne-induced fun.
There are ways to cut down on the cost of wine. If you’re not too fussy, you can choose white over red, newer vintages over older vintages, lesser known varietals over more traditional grapes. And if you’re really adventurous, there’s cleanskin. ‘Cleanskins are usually the result of over-production. Winemakers sell off their excess at low prices without compromising the price tag of their labelled wines’ (via Wine Diva). For instance, a 2011 Riesling from John Gehrig costs $22 per bottle; a cleanskin vintage from the same boutique winery costs $90 for a dozen. Cleanskins can be hit and miss, however, so always try before you buy.
If your tastes are more expensive than mine, you can still save by joining a club. Wineries offer their club members discounts and alert them on upcoming sales. Membership is usually free, but you may need to bulk buy to be eligible for discounts.
Some of you are probably sweating over the wine talk. Never fear, BYO is here. While a 100mL glass of restaurant wine from some hole of a winery that you’ve never heard of will cost upwards of $6, a 750mL bottle of Boynton’s Pinot Gris that you’ve brought in with you will cost $20. Sure, you had never heard of Boynton’s until you rolled past their neat rows of grape vines on your way to Bright, but you did the wine tasting* while you were there, so you know that their Pinot Gris is drinkable as well as reasonably priced.
BYO also helps limit the amount of wine quaffed, especially if you pick a BYO-only establishment. Just remember to check for corkage fees whilst making bookings. Most importantly, don’t forget to bring the leftovers home**.
*Wine tastings also make for good cheap dates as long as you don’t end up making too many purchases.
If you can’t make it to a winery, some wine merchants do host free wine-tasting nights or will at least offer tasting notes and or recommendations.
**An opened bottle of wine stored in the fridge should keep for at least a day or two before it goes off. For basics on stretching the life of your opened bottle of red, check out Wine Folly’s Guide to Storing Open Red Wine.