Perhaps you’ve imagined dinner parties where you magically appear with the perfect bottle of Cabernet to the delight of your assembled guests. Or maybe you long to cozy up on a fall evening with your wine lover friends and uncork a fruity Malbec carefully chosen from your own cellar. But if you’re like most of us, you probably don’t have a trust fund to finance a comprehensive collection of carefully selected wines for your cellar.
Luckily, you can learn how to have your wine and drink it too. Wine appreciation doesn’t have to cost a fortune. By researching a bit and seeking out the best budget wine deals, it’s possible to build a great wine collection within a budget. Your budget doesn’t have to stop at your collection, either–some basic wine knowledge can help you choose a good, inexpensive bottle at a restaurant. And by traveling locally and off-season you can get some great deals on wine country vacations that will help you build your wine collection.
The Thrifty Oenophile: Learning About Wine for (Almost) Nothing
Let’s face it: people that know a lot about wine can seem extraordinary, leaving others to wonder how they ever learned so much. But the truth is that even expert oenophiles started out knowing nothing about wine.
Even if you don’t have a fat wallet, getting a great wine education isn’t beyond your reach. Some tips for budding oenophiles on a budget include:
- Subscribe to a few good wine magazines. Publications like “Wine Spectator” and “Food and Wine” are excellent low-cost resources for all types of wine-related information. Read the culinary section of your city’s newspaper regularly. Not only will you learn a lot, the ads are great ways to find local sales.
- Seek out online groups and resources. A lot of good, free information is also available to budding oenophiles on the Web. Join a wine lover’s group online to network with other wine lovers. Wine websites are great resources for learning about wine regions, proper wine storage and wine types, and they often have sections dedicated to wines below $20.
- Find a good local wine shop. The staff at most wine stores are very knowledgeable and enjoy answering questions. Visit as many wine tastings as possible. Often wines featured at tastings are available at a discount.
Finding the Best Budget Wine Bargains
Once you know a thing or two about wine, finding the best budget wine deals becomes not only possible, but fun. Look for sales on both wines that you’ll want to drink now and wines that you can store that will improve with age.
When you find a wine you like, purchase a case. Buying wine this way can save you up to 20 percent per bottle. If you don’t want twelve bottles of one type of wine, many wine shops will let you purchase a “mixed case,” letting you mix and match and still qualify for a case discount.
Wine Country Vacations on a Budget
Perhaps the best, and most fun, way to learn about wine is from winemakers themselves. And while the cost of a vacation to Napa may be outrageous in July, in December you’ll not only find great hotel deals–you’ll have the place virtually to yourself, leaving you to taste and ask questions without dealing with crowds.
If a flight to California is out of the question, find some local wineries to visit. Wineries have popped up in just about every corner of the United States–you may be surprised to find that there’s one an easy drive away from you. Local wine country vacations will not only save you money, but can help you discover wonderful new wines that will make your cellar the envy of your wine lover friends.