enchanting wines at home
Wine budget: From left – Solera Xeres Oloroso (sweet sherry), Santa Monica Cava (Spanish bubbly), both are within everyday drinking budget.  Marques de Caceres Gran Reserva 2001, slightly pricey, but still affordable to be something nice once a month.  Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2004 will be something you save for special occasions.  Juve y Camps 2007 Cava is another bubbly that you pop at some special moments.

Wine budget varies for different individuals.  The wine business has suddenly become ever vibrant and exciting with the opening up of many new markets in Asia, especially China.  This might not help us, the wine lovers with humble bank accounts, as the prices have gone up with the new demands.  Consider the following scenario if you have spent some time in Asia:

“I see you don’t drink much of our white liquor.  Can I get you something else?”

“Thank you for asking.  I’m not much fan of the strong alcohol drink.  Do you have any red wine?”

“Oh, you should have mentioned it earlier!  Have you heard of Lafite?”

“!!”

“I love wine and Lafite is my favorite.  Will open up a few in my collection next time and we can see who can empty his glass fastest!”

“!!!!”

If you are new and do a search on Chateau Lafite, a consistent producer of one of the world most expensive wines, your tongue would stick out as the above was my true experience.  But if you know a little bit about wine, you would know that a true wine lover would never front-bombard you with Lafite.  On the contrary, it merely shows that the person knows very little about wine but has a fat wallet to show off!  A true wine lover would explore wine in all types and naturally, all price ranges.

So, how do you work around your wine budget?  Let’s start with the myth:

Prices vs Quality

A friend of mine has a rule of thumb — the wine under RM20 is always bitter and astringent; RM20-RM50 is good for everyday drinking; RM50-RM100 is tasty wine; Over RM100 is for her to entertain her most honourable guests;  Anything more than RM200 is too expensive and even though she can afford it, she would not buy as she frankly admits that she would not tell the difference and thus not worth her money!

As funny as it sounds, it does have some truth to it!  I hate to put an equal sign to the quality of wine and price tag, but sometimes things just work this way, unfortunately.  It is even more obvious if you were to follow the famous wine critics when purchasing your wine.  While the wines with high critique rating are usually not cheap, there are still good quality wines out there that are not too expensive.  You just need to know where to look for them.

Let’s try using the myth as a theory, at least to set your own budget system in deciding your everyday wine price, once a month price, special occasion price and once a lifetime price ranges.  How do you come up with the numbers for each category?  There is no definite answer, just make sure you work within your budget.  My friend’s case could give you an idea to begin with.  Don’t worry if you don’t get the numbers right in the beginning as you will fine tune them along the way.  The important concept here is to determine your budget for different price ranges, not quality.  As each price range will have its own gems once you know your personal taste well (remember the Errgg-Mmm list?)

Search/Compare Prices

This is important because you don’t want to be ripped off by your local wine stores, or when you’re at an exotic place where you would pay anything for everything!  A good site to start is the Wine-Seacher.com.  Or you can just google the wine details for the general feel of the prices in different parts of the world.  Remember, always find out the prices of the wine you drink, before or after through the net.  Compare the prices among local stores and supermarkets as well. If you were ripped off this time, you wouldn’t be the next time by keeping this habit.

Sales/Promotion

Know your local wine stores and supermarkets well.  I always pay a visit to the wine section whenever I do my grocery, checking out their prices and find out if there are promotions.  Again, with the convenience of internet, you should be very well informed of all the market prices soon.  The two major wine chains in Hong Kong, Ponti and Watson’s Wine, regularly do promotions that are worth checking out.  Park n Shop group of supermarkets, such as International, Taste and Great have fairly good collection of wines as well.  The others like Oliver’s The Delicatessen and ThreeSixty are also good places to look for wine.

There are also many other smaller wine shops around town.  They might not have the best price or large enough collection, but do check them out.  Once you have become their regular customers, you might get some good deals later.

Group Order

This is the latest trend as a smart shopper.  Some of the best deals require a minimum order.  It’s probably time for you to start a small group of wine lover friends to benefit from this aspect.  I might post some group order suggestions here at maestrochworld for interested party in Hong Kong.  So, do come back often.

So, what are you waiting for?  Go and treat yourself well starting tonight!

Be safe and smart wine lover.  Don’t drink and drive!