1. Be wary of "sales" at stores
For many folks, it's impossible to resist a big "sale" sign with slashed prices. Turns out, though, that it's a rouse. “It’s kind of a racket. It’s like going to the casino. The house always wins," Hosmer says. "Wineries can set their wholesale prices at whatever they want. And you can set your retail price at whatever you want. That means, when it’s on the shelf, that wine’s on sale for 50% off all year long. People are looking for value, so you had these made-up sales that don’t really relate to the real world. They just put a big yellow sticker on it.”
2. Buy bulk from the source
Bulk always results in savings. But usually, wineries and clubs can get up 15-25% off the retail price, which is considerably higher than the grocery store. “You can generally get a good deal if you’re a club member or buy at the winery," he says.
3. At vineyards, it's okay to be cheap
“The worst wine to be on the wine list is the cheapest one," Hosmer says. "If you’re the second-cheapest one, you’ll be the best seller. Nobody wants to be on a date and look cheap. But quality is kind of a moving target."
4. Be friendly with the sommelier
When you're going for a bottle in a restaurant, you can either scan an endless list, looking for something in your budget, or you can save time and get better recs by talking to the expert. “You can just tell them how much money you want to spend and they’ll recommend things. Chat up the sommelier,” he says.
5. Trust your taste, not your friend's
"You get immediate value from getting something you like rather than something somebody else tells you to like,” Hosmer says, adding that people far too often trust an "expert" rather than their taste buds. "They listen to their friend instead of getting what they like. Then they just think the vineyard sucks."