"Wine is water come of age." - Father Capon

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beware of supermarket wine "sales"

I'm still upset about this. Today, I stopped by a local supermarket to check out their "one day, 20% off" wine sale. Now, I know this store and I generally keep track of their stock and prices and I was disappointed to discover that along with the 20% discount, a shocking number of the wines had seen price increases from previous week of around...20%. To the observant eye there were very few wines that turned out to be really good deals, most were no lower than you could find on any other day of the year. But the allure of a discount is a powerful thing, as I discovered later that evening when I stopped by the store again to pick up something for dinner. To my even greater shock, the wine aisle was full...full of people taking advantage of the "sale"; buying wine by the case. Buyer beware. There are loads of good deals out there (I have been particularly impressed by uncorkdeals.com), but supermarket wine isles can often be misleading because the "retail" price (which you almost never pay) is artificially high, often higher than you would pay at the winery. So, let's say you have your favorite wine X and the price on the shelf says that it's price is "normally" 15 bucks. But this week the supermarket is running an advertised special that marks wine X down to 12.99. Now, on top of that they have a one day 20% off sale. That brings the price of wine X down to 10.39. Wow! That's a great deal, right? It is unless you happen know that discount stores routinely sell wine X for 8.99. Compared to 15 dollars, 10 seems like a nice savings, but the deception is that no one in their right mind pays 15.00 for wine X. Don't be fooled by great savings on artificially high prices. The blessing and curse of supermarket wine pricing is that it is constantly changing. Which means that sometimes you can find a really super deal and at other times you can get taken to the cleaners. And a lot of folks today got the feeling of a great deal without really getting one. This explains why, at times, supermarkets can afford to sell wine below their cost. They make up for it later. Do your homework on your favorite wines and watch for a good price, not a good sale.   

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