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Originally published Friday, April 4, 2014 at 11:27 AM

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Here are 3 ways to save when buying wine

If the taxman has left you tapped out, there are still ways to buy great wine. Grapevine columnist Andy Perdue tells you how.


Special to The Seattle Times

TASTE AND SAVE

Here are three Washington wines that shouldn’t break your budget:

Charles & Charles 2012 Post No. 35 cabernet sauvignon & syrah, Columbia Valley: $14: Charles Smith of Walla Walla is the creative genius behind many wines, and he partnered with Charles Bieler of New York to produce this delicious and affordable red blend.

Columbia Crest 2012 Grand Estates unoaked chardonnay, Washington, $12: Sleek, beautiful and tree-free, this luscious white wine is loaded with tropical flavors.

Washington Hills 2012 merlot, Washington, $12: This longtime label, now owned by Seattle’s Precept Wine, is a rich, persistent and approachable red at the right price.

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Here's the problem: $10 - 12 is still to much for many people. MORE
You can find a good bottle of wine at Grocery Outlet or Rite Aid for around $5. The pr... MORE

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AFTER THE taxman grabs his share of your earnings, it might not seem like a lot is left to splurge on wine. So here are three of my favorite tips to stretch those dollars when you’re purchasing your favorite fermented beverage:

Buy by the case: When you find a wine or winery you like, the simplest way to save 10 to 15 percent is to purchase by the case. Not only do wineries offer a by-the-case discount, but wine stores and groceries often do, too.

Let’s say you really like a wine that costs $20. Buying 12 bottles normally would cost you $240, but with a 15 percent case discount, you will save $36, which is like getting almost two of those bottles for free.

This tip works not only if you’re buying 12 of the same bottle. Most wineries and merchants also will honor the discount for a mixed case.

Be sure to ask for the discount. With the incredibly competitive landscape in wine retail right now, you are in a great position to get this deal.

Buy wines from the Southern Hemisphere: Some of the best bargains — and seriously great wines — are coming out of countries in the Southern Hemisphere. Look for shiraz (syrah) from Australia, pinot noir and sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, malbec from Argentina, carmenère and merlot from Chile, and several varieties from South Africa. Want to try something a little more exotic? Track down a rare red wine called tannat from Uruguay.

It is not unusual to find any of these countries’ wines for $10 to $15 per bottle.

Work for wine: This trick works because you live near wineries. If you volunteer to help at your favorite winery, it is not unusual to be paid in bottles of wine. This is great if you have some time on your hands and also want to get to know the owners and winemakers a little better. Be aware that if you receive $600 or more worth of wine, you’ll probably need to pay taxes on it.

Additionally, if you take a part-time job at a winery tasting room, you’ll be eligible for the employee discount, which can be anywhere from 30 to 50 percent off retail. This often applies even if you work just one or two days per month.

Andy Perdue is a wine journalist, author and judge. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.



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