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Best places to buy cases of good wine cheap?

I'm posting this in "Boston" and not in "Wine" because it's about where people buy wine in the Boston area. Let me know if you think my judgement is off.

I'm shopping for wine for a wedding - will need to buy 8-10 cases. Where do people shop when they need to buy in quantity and want both a good wine and a good deal?

I'd like to spend $5-7 a bottle, maybe something from Spain, but mostly I want to know where people shop. New Hampshire is great for the savings on tax, but most state stores don't have a lot of good wine under $7. Maybe the Nashua, NH Costco?

Another thought is Trader Joes right here in Boston - some prices are so good, that even paying tax you still save money. And they seem to really specialize in the under $10 range.

How do restaurants get wine? Is it possible to buy in this kind of quantity from a distributor?

What else might I not be thinking of? Where would you go to get a good price on a quantity of good wine? I can travel a bit, so if there is something awesome in New Haven or Portland or wherever, let me know.

Thanks!

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  1. I'd suggest checking Marty's on Washington St. in Newton. They offer discounts on cases and are very helpful in directing me toward affordable, potable wine. I'm not sure how many $5 bottles they have, but a discount on an $8 bottle might get you close to your budget.

    1. Congrads on getting married, we did our own bar too. We purchased directly from a local winery in San Diego, but got all of our liquor from COSTCO. Costco and Traders are probably your best bet. There is a wine bog all about TRADER's wines called Quaffability.com, you migth find some good stuff. You should weigh the cost savings of going to NH against the gas etc it will cost you to get there.

      You might find something you like and be able to buy it in bulk from your local grocery store as well. Talk to the wine buyer at TRADERS or Whole Foods, Ihave found them to be helpful.

      Good Luck

      Test the stuff before you purchase it!!

      1. I'm going through this process right now for my own wedding. Have you tried Gordon's Liquors in Medford? They do free delivery for orders over $100 and they'll also buy back / credit unopened bottles. They have someone who handles catering (can't think of her name) who is supposedly very good at recommending inexpensive wines from Argentina, Spain, etc. that are very good and under $10.

        1. Other place to try is Brookline Liquor Mart. Roger was very helpful when we were searching for a new 'weekday' house wine - something $10+/-. I got a mixed case of his suggestions to try & they delivered for free into downtown Boston.

          1. Trader Joe's is a great option, and I'm pretty sure they will buy back unopened cases. Distributors are not allowed to sell to individuals.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mojoeater

              I agree. Trader Joe's has some great options. The one in Cambridge (by MicroCenter) has some really nice people in the wine area who have a lot of knowledge and who are willing to help you pick out the best options, considering your budget and tastes.

              1. re: mojoeater

                I did the same thing. I had great luck at Trader Joe's in Cambridge. The staff there thought it was a great idea and were really happy to help. They opened different bottles and let me try them. It was great. We didn't have to worry about trying to sell back unopened cases though... every last drop was gone!

              2. Trader Joes, Marty's, Blanchards, Macy's, Atlas, Kappy's are all good options. Most liquor stores have signs telling us it's illegal to return booze, so buy something you will like to drink after the event, or give bottles as favors.

                1. I used Bauer Wines on Newbury Street for my wedding (Howie was my neighborhood merchant at the time): they really did a nice job for us. This is one occasion when building a relationship with a wine merchant really pays off: they'll already have an idea of what you like, and will go the extra mile to help you choose something special.

                  But any worthy merchant should be able to recommend worthwhile wines within your specified budget, give decent discounts on bulk purchases, deliver, and retrieve and buy back anything unopened.

                  We chose a limited number of wines: a red and a white for our cocktail hour, another two for dinner, a sparkler, and a special bottle of wine for ourselves. Each wine had some special significance for us: a first date bottle, a winery we visited on a romantic holiday, etc.

                  Other wine merchants I often use for some combination of their expert advice, willingness to special order, and prices are Brix, Martignetti's in Brighton, Gordon's in Waltham, and Blanchard's in Allston. Most will routinely do a 10% discount on mixed cases, 20% on uniform cases; a few do periodic 20% mixed-case sales (where I do my stocking up).

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    I agree with you slim. I've loved Bauer for a long time and howie is fabulous. I would add to your list Fine Wine Cellars in Chestnut Hill. Matt is very helpful for picking out inexpensive yet interesting wines. They offer a 15% discount on mixed cases.

                    1. re: BostonCorkDork

                      I was unaware of Fine Wine Cellars; will check them out.

                      Bauer surprised me: when I moved nearby, I expected a Newbury Street wine shop to be overpriced and tilted toward the high end, but it consistently keeps its focus broad. Howie and his crew never aggressively upsell: they're as happy to find you a worthwhile $9 bottle as a $90 one, which earned my loyalty. Free delivery didn't diminish my esteem, either: that bought me some much-needed prep time on impromptu parties.

                      I routinely called with orders like: "I need a mixed case, capped at $200 total, 8 red/4 white; mix it up, some European and some New World wines, delivered in a couple of hours." They would hit that nail on the head every time, always including some crowd-pleasers and something new and interesting, yet knew me well enough to never include generic Cali chards or merlots, the crutch party wines for many shops.

                  2. Gary's Liquors on VFW Parkway has great prices on whole cases. It seems to be what they specialize in. I think you can pick up some good California wines below $8 a bottle.

                    1. best cellars also offers reasonably priced off-the-beaten path wines. the guys at the wine and cheese cask in somerville are terrific.

                      any store will give you a quantity discount, which will get you closer to your budget. $5 a bottle is truly skirting the edge of drinkability. it means the store paid about $3. please think about this. (the bottle and cork each cost about 50 cents, btw...)

                      1. My local fave is Vintages, in West Concord. A small Ma and Pop place with an excellent selection of drinkable plonks (they have been featured in the Globe a few times, esp. in the occasional best plonk columns). $9 is about the bottom price there, but that is before case discounts. I often can go in after grocery shopping and simply tell Eric my dinner ingredients and he never fails to pick out something good, often something interesting. (They have really fabulous stuff too, but cost seems to be an overriding issue here). They are my local stop, so I must admit to a bias, but I always as a rule try to support the little guy instead of the mega-seller corporate beast owned by who knows who from who knows where....

                        1. I don't want to get OT here, but if you are planning your own wedding (As I did) It is often best that you describe it as a "family reunion" to most vendors ( a trusted source for libations being a rare exception). You will find that trying to procure goods and sevices for a Wedding will command a premium over a "family reunion"

                          Best wishes and Congrats to both of you.

                          1. At that price point Costco may be your best bet. Trader's has cheap stuff, but taste it first. Some is ok. I haven't been in a while, but I recall Discount Liquor in Cambridge off the Fresh Pond circle had bins of cheap stuff with a few good pick. Wine Cellar of Silene in Waltham distributes to restaurants. Although not the cheapest retail, they will stear you right and they might give you or your caterer a discount for a large purchase.

                            1. I am a very big fan of the Wine and Cheese Cask in Somerville (across the street from Dali). They are knowledgeable, helpful and they seek out wines that are good values. They are also very good at making recommendations. 15% off for a case or 10% off for a mixed case. They also have a quarterly sale - which you just missed -where a mixed case is 20% off.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Northender

                                Agree wholeheartedly. I think the next quarterly sale will be in May, so check it out if it's not too late for your wedding.

                                1. re: phoebek

                                  thanks for the tip. i love those guys too, ill check them out and wait for the may sale to buy.

                                  1. re: andytee

                                    It'll probably be late May - post memorial day. But you might call them and see how they would handle an order as large as you anticipate making.

                              2. D&L Liquors with 2 locations in Waltham is our favorite local spot for wine of all prices. They make great recommendations and their prices are reasonable.

                                1. As others have mentioned, you can do far worse than simply shopping at Trader Joe's, but you should definitely try anything you're planning to buy in bulk and make sure *you* like drinking it. (Depending on how the wedding goes, you may need to drink a fair amount of it after all ...)

                                  Costco like Trader Joe's has very good prices, but does not always have skillful, knowledgeable staff on hand to help with selection. Many worthy liquor stores have been mentioned, I'll pipe up for Brookline Liquor Mart (they have free tastings every Saturday afternoon and some very savvy staff; http://www.blmwine.com), Mall Discount Liquors in Cambridge (http://www.mallliquors.com/) and Marty's (though I've always thought they did better on high-end stuff than sub-$10 stuff, http://www.martyswine.com/). All of the shops should do bulk discounts.

                                  Good luck!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Dr.Jimbob

                                    oh yeah, tasting first pretty much goes without saying. ideally, i will buy 5-6 interesting bottles at a good price, take them home and have a few friends over and do a simple low-key tasting. havent cracked any bottles in the parking lot yet, but if need be i will do so.

                                    the trader joes in cambridge is actually as helpful and attentive as any wine store i have ever been to, and they have a few really knowledgable people on staff. you just have to ask to speak to whoever knows the most about the wines, there are a few people i have really found helpful.

                                    im still holding out for a bit before i commit, but i think we may have already found white wine we like at TJ's. we did a tasting with some friends of 4 diffrerent bottles all under $7, and really liked two. first, the Amaicha Torrontes from Argentina, only $4.99 a bottle, and second, the Montecillo Roija (blanca) from Spain, $5.99 a bottle. I really like both, and think they are far better than a lot of $10 or even $15 white wines that I have tasted. So, yes, there are good wines out there in this price range, it just takes some digging.

                                    Thanks, everyone for the suggestions - and keep them coming! I'm still hunting for my red wines, and still open to other ideas on the whites too.

                                    1. re: Dr.Jimbob

                                      Just an update on Mall Discount Liquors - I was there yesterday. It has moved down one spot (Whole Foods is expanding) & reopened as Cambridge Wine & Spirits (or something to that affect). Store is definitely more organized, but prices have gone up. Huge selection, some good sales, yes, but the average price I found was on par with other options in the area, or even a bit higher. Also - they only give a 10% discount on cases, where a lot of other places will do 15%. Just FYI!

                                    2. I would seriously weigh the ability to return (as most liquor stores will do for sizeable functions) vs. having to keep what is not use (which you'd have to do if you bought at Costco or TJs). I worked a wedding last summer where the couple did the bar themselves, they did a mix of good-quality hard stuff, Two-Buck Chuck and assorted beer. At the end of the night, all their top-shelf stuff had been consumed and they were left with a LOT of the wine and their cheaper beer. You might be better off paying a little more per bottle to be able to only pay for what you use.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Angel Food

                                        returns might be nice, but we are just doing a wine and beer bar, and all of it will be "good stuff", i.e. if we can't return it we will drink it, give it as gifts, and add it to tips for the caterers and so on.

                                      2. You already received a lot of pretty good suggestions. If you wanted to go a bit further afield, you can still get quality Portuguese and Eastern European wines in your price range (maybe South Africa depending on the varietal). Californian blends and less common varietals (like from Cline or Estancia) with case discounts can come pretty close. I have used a Cline white blend, with an Argentinean chardonnay, and a Portuguese Douro plus a Cava for a wedding on a similar budget. There are Spanish wines from Ribeira del Duero just about your price range if you look hard enough. Sangria made the wine go further. For larger parties, I have made an effort to select readily available wines and give business to my local wine merchant as I have a better relationship with them.

                                        Richard from Violette Cellars (wholesale importer who does retail, just with really odd hours) is where I tended to get Eastern European wines, as well as unusual other finds (not always mainstream). In my most recent visits I have gotten all Western European wines, so am not certain exactly what he might have. You either need to call to meet him or might catch him on a Saturday morning.

                                        For Portuguese wines 660 Liquors on Cambridge St in Cambridge has the best selection in Boston. Prices have started to creep up, but there are some good bargains in a bottle. Your best value would be a Garrafao (a 5L bulk wine), which SavMor on McGrath has the best selection. They range from $14.95-$19.95 usually, with some in the $22-23 range, and have red or vinho verde, not white. They don't specify the varietals and price doesn't always dictate quality, but sometimes the region can help you decide. Decanting is preferable for presentation purposes and the reds need to open up a bit, but not too much. If you travel to the South Coast of MA there is more variety, although 660 gets a lot of wines my local merchant has been unable to order.

                                        If you do go to what was Mall Discount, check out some of their Chilean blends and they might be a good place to look for South African or maybe Australian wines if you get lucky. Before the renovation they had some quality wines along those lines at excellent prices, but sometimes they may not stock as many cases as needed for a wedding. Also if you like any of the other stores mentioned (Wine & Cheese, etc), I don't think you need to wait for a sale to get discounts with the quantity you will be purchasing.