Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why Do You Buy Wine?

A conversation about group buying got me thinking about the reasons people buy wine and how knowing more about that would shed light on the types of opportunities present within any group of wine buyers.

I'm sure many of you just thought, "to drink it, of course", and that is the obvious reason to buy a beverage like wine. The question I am really asking is what prompts you to determine that you need to head to the wine shop and pick up some wine? I can only answer for myself, and am genuinely hoping for some feedback from others so I can gain perspective on how other people do it.

I buy wine for a purpose. Two things might be useful for context. I make my own wine at home and that does have a relationship to how much commercial wine I buy. I don't collect wine. I have a small cellar that turns over fast. Here are several of the current motivators for me to buy wine:
  • I am cooking a regional dish and need a wine that would typically be paired with the dish. I am doing this to maximize my appreciation for the food and drink of the region I am inspired by.
  • I need a wine from a specific region and of a certain style as an assignment for a Boston Sommelier Society wine tasting.
  • I am looking to explore a type/style of wine, and typically from multiple regions, as inspiration to make a batch of it at home.
  • I am participating in an online event where specific wine(s) will be tasted and reviewed.
I am exposed to a great many more wines through local tastings, travel and an occasional dinner out. Only recently have I begun buying wine and having it shipped home from my travel destinations. This is generally because the wine is not available to be in my local market, and is often a mixed case destined for short-term consumption.

What conclusions do I draw from my own wine buying habits? I am focused and spur of the moment. I don't plan that far ahead and don't buy wine I've never had to have it in my cellar for the future. Price is important, as it is any time I open my wallet, but it is not a significant driver for how I buy wine.  I may not be a good candidate for promotions that would have me considering wines I don't yet have a purpose for.

Why do you buy wine? What motivations for buying new (new or new-to-you) wines do you have? How does price factor in to how and when you buy wine?

Please leave a comment with some feedback about your wine buying habits. I am truly intrigued about this subject and hope that it can help others better identify opportunities that exist to source and market wines from around the world.




Wayne said...

You're motivators are much more complicated than mine! Typically, for home consumption, I'm looking to find tasty wines at that elbow of price/performance where increasing cost nets diminishing returns. At this price range, trying new wines presents minimal risk, so I'll try a new bottle for every 4-5 of familiar labels I purchase. Consumer Reports is a surprisingly good resource here. I explore new wines at higher price ranges less frequently, however, because price doesn't guarantee good results and bad bottles present a bigger disappointment. Over time, I have found some consistently better bottles I'll pick up for special occasions. For new finds, I typically rely on tastings or friends' recommendations.

Brie said...

Our reasons for buying wine typically fall into one of the following categories:

1) We are planning a meal and want a wine that will compliment the food.

This means that we rely on our college wine tasting class knowledge and the experience gained over years of drinking wine to pick out something that will pair well with the meal. We have several favorites for each type of wine and in different price ranges. Sometimes we’ll try something new on the recommendation of the owner of the local liquor store – he’s a great resource for pointing out new wines as he knows our tastes since we’ve been customers for a few years.

2) We are planning to spend an evening at home with friends playing cards or games and want some wine to share.

Here we look to old favorites that are easily drinkable with light snacks such as cheese and crackers. We’ll base our selections on what our guests enjoy as well as our personal favorites.

3) We are simply in the mood for a glass of wine or two either at home or by the pool with friends.

This is where we typically drink value wines that we enjoy. I tend to stick with a riesling while my husbands latest favorite is a cab from Yalumba. Again, we’ll try new things from our local store or even from the warehouse store (I scored an enjoyable late harvest riesling there for $6 a bottle).

To answer some of your questions – price is a factor when purchasing wine. For a special occasion, we have no problem splurging for a expensive, but well-loved bottle. We are less likely to buy an expensive and untried bottle. We are much more likely to try new wines that have a reasonable price tag. We also tend to avoid anything with a really low price, unless it comes with a recommendation from a friend or the store owner.

Meghan@travelwinedine said...

Great post, and thought-provoking question! I think there are so many different reasons and scenarios. I buy some wine to go with cuisine I like to eat/cook the most. So when buying whites, for example, I like to look for wines that go well with Thai and Indian flavors. Other times I buy wine in conjunction with travel. Just like recreating a dish we had on vacation, buying a bottle (ok, really 2 cases:)) from various wineries on a fabulous vacation is a way to relive those memories. I can open up a Syrah from the Dry Creek Valley and literally feel the sun on my shoulders, smell the dusty air mixed in with those great wine making smells, hear that beautiful country quiet. And of course, I buy it to share with friends and family. A lot of it comes down to reliving memories or making new ones.

The Sediment Blog said...

1) We're celebrating!! :)

2) We're depressed... :(

Kate said...

We drink wine with most dinners so we typically keep a couple hundred bottles in the basement to be able to select the right wine for the meal. We've found we prefer certain wines - pinot noir, shiraz, sauvignon blanc and avoid others - chardonnay. That being said we're very open to trying new wines. We love having a wine store where they know us and what we like!

jennifersign said...

I like to purchase wine for special dinners and I've just began having friends over for wine tastings. I've been to a few at restaurants and wineries, but I wanted to do something special with my friends at my home. I however do not know much about wine so I've been purchasing my wines online from,