Sunday, March 8, 2009

10 ways to save on wine; restaurants deplete wine inventories

A piece from the WSJ on ordering wine in a recession:
  1. Skip wine by the glass. Restaurateurs like to make enough on a single glass to pay for a whole bottle, which is great for them but not so great for you. And it wouldn't be so bad except that so many wines by the glass are poured from bottles that have been open for too long and mistreated after opening.
  2. RW: This is interesting. Check the vintage closely. Most wines are meant to drink young and fresh and many restaurants, especially informal restaurants, don't keep their wines in perfect conditions. Our guess is that many restaurants these days, facing slumping demand, are in no hurry to replenish their inventory of wines with more recent vintages. That means wines that should have been drunk a while back are still being served.
  3. Bypass the second-cheapest wine on the list. The least expensive is actually a pretty good deal at many places.
  4. Scope out the owner's passion for value. If there are, say, a dozen wines from South Africa on the list and no more than a handful from anywhere else, chances are the owner knows and cares about South African wine -- and therefore is more likely to know good values from there. While we are big fans of Chilean wines for their taste and value, we have seen far too many lists recently with just one Chilean wine on the list and it's usually inexpensive. It's clearly there as a "value wine," but our guess is that the owner doesn't know anything about Chilean wine and therefore honestly has no idea if this particular wine is a good value or not.
  5. Avoid the Chardonnay tax. Chardonnay is America's favorite wine. Just about everybody loves it and feels comfortable with it, which is why the Chardonnays on so many lists are grossly overpriced compared to other wines.
  6. Never order Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio.
  7. Don't ignore house wines, by the bottle or in carafes. People who travel around the world often tell us they wish more American restaurants offered the simple, inexpensive and delightful wines that seem ubiquitous in Europe and elsewhere. We agree.
  8. Look for half-price deals. If you missed the Wine Events recently listing a few of the restaurants offering, say, 50% off every bottle on Mondays, drop us a note and we'll send it along. But that listing was just the tip of the iceberg. This trend is sweeping the nation.
Read the rest of the article here. I found number 2. (above) particularly interesting, since restaurants drawing on their current inventory of wine is a microcosm of firm spending at the aggregate level.

Businesses all over are slashing new orders and drawing on existing inventories. Inventory to sales ratios continue to climb, indicating that businesses overshot their build of inventories; they face worse-than-expected sales, and production has likely not fallen enough to meet demand. Firms are likely to draw down inventories in coming quarter(s), and GDP will fall accordingly.

Rebecca Wilder


  1. ...which says what for all those wineries that popped up all over the US in the last 5 years? And, water to irrigate is being cut by California in places where these are.

  2. #6 made me laugh. Without reading the WSJ article, I didn't know there was any more explanation than what you provided, haha. I hear you though, Santa Margherita is over-priced in wine shops as is, let alone at restaurants. I really never order vino when dining out for a. the price, and b. explanation number one.

    Way to tie in the economic ramifications at the end haha...the trick is to write about stuff your actually interested in -- then throw a little economics in at the end.

    Well done,


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