Wine may have a classy reputation, but you don’t need to pay high prices. Here are 7 ways you can save money on your favourite tipple.
Wine conjures up a lot of romantic notions, which some retailers are quick to take advantage of. Because everyone associates wine with being a classy drink, it attracts hefty (and often unfair) price tags.
Here are some ways to get it at a reasonable cost.
1. Decide if the Wine is the Highlight of the Meal
It’s only worth buying expensive wine if it’s to be a highlight of the meal. This means, for example, that the choice of main dish is deliberately paired with a particular wine.
If this isn’t the case, then you may be better off sticking to lower priced bottles. There’s no point buying a S$120 bottle of wine, if the main dish is a potent curry that will more than mask the wine’s taste.
In the same way you don’t have to use top-end ingredients for every meal (you wouldn’t buy high grade wagyu meat for your regular lunch sandwich – or maybe you would, we don’t know you), there’s no need to buy expensive wine for every dinner.
2. Buy Second Label Wines
Second label wines are the ones that weren’t considered the best by the winery. Rather than pour it down a drain, the wineries repackage these as “second label”, and sell them for cheaper. This can shave as much as 20 per cent off the price.
The thing is, the average drinker (i.e. not a connoisseur or sommelier) probably can’t tell the difference. It’s subtle enough that any dinner host can easily get away with it.
3. Buy Boxed Wine
Boxed wine is cheap and terrible, right?
Wrong, and we’ll let you in on a secret: a lot of the “better” wines you drink were probably shipped in similar boxes, and then poured into bottles. Much of the prejudice against boxed wine comes from the 1990s, when the technology used was primitive (at the time, boxed wines really were terrible, and you could taste the cardboard).
These days, the techniques used to make boxed wine have improved substantially. In fact, boxed wine can be stored longer than an open bottle of wine (as long as six weeks, as opposed to five days for an open bottle). And as for cost, it can go as low as a third of the price.
4. In Restaurants, Don’t Order the Second Cheapest Wine
Restaurants know consumer behaviour well. One of the things they’ve learned is that you don’t want to appear cheap, by ordering the least expensive wine. At the same time, you won’t want to splurge on the most expensive option. As such, you’ll pick the second most expensive.
This is the wine that typically has the highest markup, and is the worst value for your dollar. Don’t pick it. Either go for quality by picking the best, or pick the least expensive (which tend to be fairly priced, by the way).
5. Don’t Buy by the Glass
Hotels and restaurants hate selling by the glass, as it could mean a lot of wasted, half-drunk bottles. As such, they compensate with steep markups. The standard is to try and make up the cost of the entire bottle, after selling just three to five glasses.
Needless to say, you don’t want to be one paying that premium.
6. Compare Prices Online, Even Before You Buy at a Sale
Retailers have learned that, once the word “sale” is stuck on a wine bottle, most people go straight for it without checking. In reality, the sale may be nothing more than standard price.
(It’s not technically a lie, if the retailer usually places a high markup on the bottle).
Always check the wine prices online, to get a sense of its actual worth. Don’t assume the sale means you’re getting a better deal.
7. Buy With the Right Credit Card
Use a credit card that gives you air miles, reward points, or cashback to buy the wine; then pay back the credit card immediately. This gives you all the discounts and rewards, with none of the interest repayments.
If you buy your wine primarily from major supermarkets, we recommend pairing your purchase with the Citi Cash Back Visa Card. That’s because you can get a hefty 8% rebate on your favourite wines.
And here’s something to really raise your glass to: Apply now and get up to S$390 worth of gifts from LiveUp, GuavaPass, NTUC FairPrice and more!
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.