One of the myths about wine tasting is that it takes a lot of money to buy any wine worth drinking. If your pocketbook is light, you may feel like you can’t afford to add wine to your meals on a regular, or even semi-regular, basis. Fortunately, it is not true that good wine is only for the wealthy. Although you may not be able to afford rare vintages, there are worthwhile wines out there for every budget, and a great wine does not need a fancy label—or price—to impress your taste buds or complement your meal.

Impression on Perception

wineIt is tempting to dash in, grab the first bottle with an interesting/attractive label, cross your fingers and hope it is a good wine. (Random fact: even professional wine tasters will claim to prefer the flavor of a wine in a classy looking label over the same wine bottled in a ‘cheap’ looking label. Perception matters.) If you educate your palate, however, you will be able to learn what characteristics you’ve enjoyed in the past, and that increases your chance of finding an inexpensive alternative for the future. This can take a while to figure out, but you can help yourself by paying close attention whenever you are given the chance to taste a new wine. Imitate a wine taster and sniff, sip, swish and swallow, really paying attention to what you taste and how it hits your palate. This way, when you find a wine you like, you have a fair chance of being able to identify why you like it.

Once you know what you like, you can go off the beaten track a little bit. Use the internet to find helpful tables of some of the best, affordable wines, and watch for descriptors that match your tastes. It doesn’t do you any good to find a six dollar red wine that someone online has been raving about, if your tastes run more to dry white wines. Paying attention to characteristics can help you find wines that are cheaper because they are from new wine-producing regions, or use unfamiliar varietals.

Tips to maximize Your Budget

Once you identify a few inexpensive wines or labels that you enjoy, you can maximize your budget by watching for sales and by taking advantage of chances to buy in bulk. Wine warehouses will sometimes sell to consumers as well as to stores, and there are various online merchants who are able to pass the savings of not maintaining a physical storefront on to you. Sometimes there are seasonal sales during the holiday season, which offers a good chance to stock up for the coming year. Because they are an emerging wine exporter look for bargains on Australian wines.

Last but not least, it never hurts to contact a label directly to find out whether they do any direct to consumer sales, or whether they can recommend a distributor in your area. Although the bill might sting the first time you buy wine by the case, it can be worth it if you consider the savings over buying the same amount of wine from your local retailer a bottle at a time.

Clara Smith is an author of numerous works on food and wine. Clara also loves to visit vineyard and wine festivals in France. Her hobby is unique, making cheese, which of course is a tasty snack with wine, some bread and her certain thou.