Wine: I’ll drink to that

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From the September 5, 2013 edition

Everyone loves a deal, right?

Certain sales are a fact of life: As summer shifts to fall, grills, pool toys and bikes move to the clearance section. But what about wine? Turns out you can get it for a steal, too.

You’ve seen wine on sale before. But what prompts such a magical moment — and how magical is it, really?

There are the straightforward reasons: The distributor (the middleman between the winery and wine shop) reduces the price, and the wine shop passes that savings along. Sometimes it’s an ongoing cut to clear out extra inventory or to make way for a new vintage (like the grill sales)ometimes it’s just a short-lived promotion, explained House Wine owner Donnie Austin.

At other times, the shop itself marks the wine down for the same reasons listed above, says Hausfrau Haven manager Aaron Simpson. If Hausfrau owner Faye Muncie doesn’t think a given bottle measures up to its price tag, she’ll mark it down to something she thinks matches up.

And doesn’t it seem like your grocery store wine section always has bottles on sale? That’s because they do, Austin says — typically, places like Giant Eagle and Kroger will mark a $10 bottle as “on sale” for $10, listing regular price as much more. Occasionally, they charge the “regular price” so that it can legally be on sale otherwise

Psst… the secret is, your local wine shop is likely selling that same bottle for $10 year-round (if they stock it).

Discounts can often reach the double-digits for expensive bottles, and I scored a 2010 Rocca Maura Côtes du Rhône 1737, originally $18, for $13 at Hausfrau recently. It was a bit tannic and very fruity — sure to be a favorite for full-bodied red-wine fans — and even sweeter thanks to the $5 savings.

Photo by Meghan Ralston