Monday, November 2, 2015
Rant: Choosing Holiday Wines (Part 1)
First, stop being a cheapskate!
During the holidays, many people stock up on wine to serve their guests at various parties and celebrations. Often, because they are buying bottles in bulk, their primary concern is price. They generally want to purchase wine that costs $10 per bottle or less and usually end up buying the large, commercial "value" wines, such as the Barefoot or Yellow Tail. It takes almost no thought to buy such wines. Though such wines might be drinkable, they aren't going to impress anyone. You've chosen to take the cheapest route possible, in both price and time.
If you are hosting a holiday party, don't you want to impress your guests? Don't you want them to leave the party talking about the great time they had? It only takes a little extra work, and maybe price, to elevate your wine selections. Or would you rather be known as a wine cheapskate by your guests, who know you bought cheap wine with no real thought?
I certainly understand the need to control your wine costs when you are providing for a number of guests. You don't have to buy $50 wines to impress your guests. You don't even have to spend $20. I have brought a number of $10 wines to parties that the other guests loved and wanted to know where they could buy them. There are good and interesting wines at this price point, if you know where to seek them out. If you want your holiday celebration to be even more popular, then you need to serve those type of wines. The extra effort will elevate your party and please your family, friends, and other guests.
What should you do?
To start, seek out one of the better discount wine stores. These places often carry a good selection of wines costing $10 or under, much more than you will find at a regular wine store. You can find plenty of variety in these inexpensive wines, whites and reds, domestic and imported. You will find wines comparable in price to those large commercial "value" wines but which offer much more character, taste and value.
My top three recommendations for discount wines stores include Bin Ends in Braintree and Needham, Wine Connextion in North Andover, and Rapid Liquors in Stoneham. Discount stores like Costco and B.J.'s Wholesale may sell wine, and if they do, they also offer discounted prices. Make the effort and drive to one of these discount spots and find some better value wines. The investment of time will pay off, creating many happy guests at your next party.
If you some reason you can't make it to one of these discount wine shops, you still have options. At whatever wine shop you visit, it might be best to ask the wine store staff for recommendations of value wines. They should be able to direct you toward those wines inexpensive wines which will be more interesting and delicious. You should also remember that most wine stores offer a discount for bulk purchases, sometimes as few as 6 wines, which is another way to save money on your purchases.
But if for some reason you can't ask a store employee for some recommendations, then my best advice for selecting a good wine that is $10 or under, is to buy a Portuguese wine. At this time, I think some of the greatest value wines are coming out of Portugal, especially at the price point. Chances are that if you purchase a Portuguese wine costing $10 or less, you will find a delicious and interesting wine. And there are plenty of Portuguese wines available in that price range. There is probably no other wine region where you can find as many good wines at that price point.
You also should know that paying a few dollars more for your wine can make a big difference. When you start considering wines priced from $10-$15, your options increase drastically. You can find some interesting wines from all over the world in that price range, though they still offer value. And if you are buying in bulk where the wine store offers a discount for larger purchases, you can save enough money so that the wines end up priced closer to $10 per bottle.
So this holiday season, don't buy the same old cheap wines. It won't take much effort to select some better choices, and still very inexpensively. In the end, you'll impress your guests, make your holiday party more memorable, and drink better wines.