Wine Talk

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

You've got $100 a week to spend on wine. What would you drink?

Posted by Richard Foxall, Sep 27, 2012.

I noticed that OutThere purchased seven bottles of a particular wine at $14 and it occurred to me that it was a $100 purchase, and enough to last about a week.  So I got curious, and mentioned in the thread that it would be interesting to know how much per week people spent.  Well, Emark has better records and more time on his hands than I do, and he wrote the following:

" I don't know how many will be interested in this, but I have a mechanism to very accurately track all my finances--including expenditures.  I can report that my expenditures for wine in the last 12 months was very close to the $5200 target that Foxall suggested above...

"How does my spending compare to the universe of wine drinkers?  I suspect that I am above average if one looks at all wine drinkers, and in this group I am including very casual wine consumers.  I suspect I am close to average in the set of Snooth members, and I suspect that I am below average in the set of 'more prolific Snooth Forum posters.' "

I'm not quite as up to date--my CT records aren't close to perfect, and my wife keeps the credit card records--but I would guess that my average is slightly lower.  I drink a lot of inexpensive bottles during the week (good discounters in my area + love of odd grapes with low demand), and only occasionally ramp up to something over $25 on the weekend.  But $100 a week, not counting the odd restaurant purchase, seems pretty close.  There are two of us and we have wine almost every night.

So, if you gave it some thought that way, how would you spend $100 a week?  Fewer but higher end bottles? Push down prices on those daily drinkers so you can splurge on the weekends?  I'm going to come up with a plan, since we spend that anyway, and see if what I am actually doing is at all similar. 

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Reply by JonDerry, Sep 27, 2012.

I'd have to throw my 2010 Heitz Chardonnay into the mix here, Mark was able to pick it up for $15.99 at Total Wine, and with their 10% half case discount that would be right there.

Would probably look hard at Portugal and Spain as well for dry reds.

Maybe some Cahors from France as well.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 27, 2012.

Looking at the last seven bottles I purchased

 (1@ $11.00) 2009 Château Millegrand Minervois Fût de Chêne  (2@ $12.00) 2010 Jorge Ordoñez & Co. Navarra El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa / Old Vines  (1 @ $16.00) 2010 Piedrasassi Syrah PS  (1 x @ $28.00) 2010 A Donkey and Goat The Prospector  (2 @ $12.00) 2010 Tenuta Fujanera Bellalma

That's $103, 7 bottles, 5 whites and two reds.  I was on a mourvedre and garnacha kick, so it's not very balanced (those Chaparrals were repeat buys, and the D&G is for a possible tasting with JD), but it's not that far off from what I like and drink regularly. 

Going back seven more:

(1 @ $18.00) 2009 Graff Family Vineyards Mourvedre Chalone  (2 @ $22.00) 2009 Kalinda Cabernet Sauvignon Cuvée Réserve  (1@ $7.00) 2005 Point Concepción Syrah Encantado  (1@ $16.00) 2010 Force of Nature Tempranillo  (1 @ $37.00) 2009 Iota Pinot Noir Pelos-Sandberg Vineyard  (1 @ $21.00) N.V. Laetitia Winery Brut Cuvée

Even with the cheap Syrah, we blew the budget: $143.  But wait:

(1  @ $14.00) 2010 Monchiero Carbone Roero Arneis Recit (Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Roero)  (1 @ $18.50) 2010 NOCO Pinot Noir (USA, California, Central Coast, Chalone) (1 @ $13.50 ) 2011 Domaine Pichot Vouvray Coteau de la Biche (France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray)  (1 @ $16.00 ) 2009 Point Concepción Pinot Noir Salsipuedes (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County)  (1 @ $10.00) 2010 Sobon Estate Barbera (USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Amador County)   (1 @ $15.00 ) 2006 Vin de Manies Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain)

So, that's $87 for 7 bottles, bringing it back in line, again 5 reds and 2 whites.  Of course, you have to find those deals, like the Kalinda (it's Saddleback's Cab, by Nils Venge) and the VIn de Manies, which was a steal. I actually bought 3 of them; they also are too young to drink, so they will get factored in when I revisit this in three years or so, I guess. 

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Reply by outthere, Sep 27, 2012.

So are we talking purchases or consumption?

Consumption-wise I've gone through 26 bottles in September. Avg cost was $24

Purchases over the same period were only 19 bottles avg $14. Topped off the wine fridge with daily drinkers.

Over the course of the last 40 months that I have been using Cellartracker I purchase 27.4 bottles/mo avg cost of $29.49.

Thanks for starting this thread Fox, now I realize I have a wine problem.

OTOH, I only consume 18.4 bottles/mo but @ $31.89 per.

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Reply by gregt, Sep 27, 2012.

You wouldn't be able to have wine every night. You'd have to average under fifteen dollars a bottle.

So you'd have to cut back to maybe four or five nights a week.

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Reply by JonDerry, Sep 27, 2012.

Thanks for starting this thread Fox, now I realize I have a wine problem.

Seriously, though I'm more in the 2-3 nights/week camp, I have a bit of a hoarding pattern.

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Reply by napagirl68, Sep 28, 2012.

Ummm... I spend more than that a week on average over a year easily... yikes.   Seriously, I can find a wine or two that is decent or above at discounters, and buy 7-8 cases.  Foxall knows what I mean.  There are some good deals (divorce sales, wineries gone under, etc) to be had locally in CA.  So those purchases, combined with the unfortunate side effect of living in the center of wine country, breaks my wallet at times!    Honestly, on a typical tasting weekend (including wine tasting and other activities) to a region I even somewhat like, I can drop easily $1k to $1.5k on wine only,  for that tiny weekend.  Yikes. While I don't drink any alcohol during the work days as a rule, I am a hoarder of wine like JD.  If anything, I need a FINANCIAL intervention!!  ;-)

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 28, 2012.

Where do you guys store all this wine? 

And why not drink on weeknights?  1/2 bottle and then VacuVin it. 

NG, there's nothing, and I mean nothing, that I would buy more than a few bottles of. I'm not dying with a full cellar, and I have too much ground to cover.  Maybe a case, but that's for a staple like Cab, and only at 75% off or better.

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Reply by JonDerry, Sep 28, 2012.

Impressive NG! I love the boldness of that decision to buy a case of wine you like, I've seen it happen but have never done it myself, yet. Part of the reason is my wife is a wine hater, she basically wants as little to do with wine as possible though she does enjoy the socializing that comes with wine/dinner parties, so at least I have that. The major benefit is she keeps my purchasing relatively in check.

3-6 x any particular wine is splurging for me, though I'll definitely regret not buying more than 3 x of a wine I really like lately. I'm also a sucker for Mags, though I struggle to find occasions to break them out. At least they last twice as long, so maybe it cancels out.

I'm on the Larkmead list and went 6 x on the 08' Cabernet Sauvignon, easily a wine I could have done with a couple of cases of as a go to wine for having special guests over and/or for gifting. Kind of feel like half the fun of wine for me are the purchasing and storing decisions that come along with it.

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Reply by EMark, Sep 28, 2012.

We pretty much have a bottle of wine every night, and I think I have data to support OT's calculation and support my finding that I spend a tad over $5K/yr on wine.  I have receipts from visits to four retail stores in the last three weeks.  I bought 49 bottles of wine and the average price was $13.19.  The most I paid for a bottle was $43.  The least I paid was $3.49 (multiple bottles, Rene Barbier Mediterranean White--a heck of a wine for the price).  I bought all these wines with the intention of consuming them in the fairly near future.  I'm getting to the point, now, where I am saying no to wines that need decades of bottle age.

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Reply by napagirl68, Sep 28, 2012.

OK.. so sounds like I am the WINO so far  LOL!

I currently have on hand ~400 wines right now, most amicable to aging.  The balance is in wine fridge in the garage.  don't get too impressed... many are bargain wines my hubby likes (horrible cabs from new world, Chile).

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Reply by gregt, Sep 28, 2012.

But guys - how will you ever drink any aged wine if you only buy a bottle at a time?  Would you keep that bottle? Or buy it on the secondary market, in which case you will certainly exceed $100 a week?  If you want something that's fifteen or twenty years old or older, I don't see how you do it buying one bottle at a time. I mean you could, but you'd just have that one bottle and you'd never be able to drink it at peak unless you were really lucky.  It's OK to drink young wine - most people, including me, do that.  But exclusively?

Also, if you buy online, it's not worth it to ship a single bottle.  Much better to ship a case.  If I had to rely on local retailers only, life would be pretty difficult. Who wants to pay full retail prices?  As NG points out - there are all kinds of buying opportunities.  Sometimes you luck out at an auction, sometimes you take advantage of a clearance because a distributor or importer is losing an account, and sometimes you just get lucky for some other reason, but in those cases, you gotta take advantage of the situation!

As for storage - I thought that's an issue in New York City, where a lot of people live in apartments. If I have a house, I'd build a cellar.  It's not that hard - I did it in my house out here. Nor is it really something that has to be too elaborate with custom racking, etc.  My uncle lived in Napa and he just put it in the basement, which was basically two walls of solid granite mountain and the temp was steady, so he didn't really pay for much except some lumber to build shelves.

I've never bought seven or eight cases for my own consumption, as NG clearly drinks a lot more than I, but a case or two of something that you can use for parties, etc., or for later consumption, is not out of the question.

Of course, all the above blows the hundred a week. So if that were the limit, at this point, I guess I'd buy what I could and drink out of my cellar to make up the difference!

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Reply by napagirl68, Sep 28, 2012.

NG, there's nothing, and I mean nothing, that I would buy more than a few bottles of. I'm not dying with a full cellar, and I have too much ground to cover.  Maybe a case, but that's for a staple like Cab, and only at 75% off or better.

Foxall, I see your point.  But I am talking about those special circumstances where I can get that awesome wine for, say $4-5 a bottle at discount.  I think 8 cases at GO was the most I've ever procured, and that happened to be for my husband!  (was a cameron hughes Rockridge Meritage).  It is long since gone, and he still looks for it.  I actually drank none of it.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 28, 2012.

6 Cases of the Altus Cabernet was my max at GO.  Sold most of it to friends. 

GregT, the aging/catching at peak is the big reason to buy larger quantities.  The shipping issue isn't that big a deal: I buy cases and split them with friends to get free or reduced shipping, and BP and others will hold stuff until I get a case together.  Let's not get started on Garagiste, where JR in his infinite wisdom makes the call about shipping for you.  Also, I live close to wineries, BP, K and L, JJ Buckley and can just pick up when it is convenient. 

Small exaggeration that I would never buy more than a few; I do buy sixes often enough.  That allows me to let it sit for a few years, then drink it a bottle a year or so.  Meanwhile, I get to keep the variety going.  So, I'll start on the '06 Ramey Larkmead probably next year, and drink one of those, maybe two, in 2013, and so on.  Meanwhile, I'll deplete the Altus further, drop a bottle of la Regnaie '04, maybe one of those '05 Rhones... and I will have bought more wine in the meantime.  For really old stuff, I have found some things on the secondary market and they aren't always expensive.  I'm still thinking about a couple '90 Cal Cabs, just for the heck of it, and the prices are not bad, less than release, with solid provenance.

OT, I used purchases as a proxy for drinking.  I certainly haven't drunk all of those or close to it, but the bottles they replaced were probably similar since I don't think I spend less or more per bottle than I used to.  And those purchases were made in about a week, because I actually had time to shop at WineMine and pick up orders at K and L.

Speaking of discount wine, NG, have you tried the Ventana Pinot Noir?  Bought two and will open the first tonight.  I've liked other wines from Ventana in the past--Rubystone and the rarely produced Cab Franc. 

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Reply by EMark, Sep 28, 2012.

I'm sorry, Greg, you are a very knowledgeable resource, and I appreciate your contributions to this forum, but your post, above, is one of the most condescending that I have read here.  Please tell me that your tongue was in your cheek and I missed your humor completely.  If that is the case, also, please stop reading right now.

In the meantime here are some personal responses to your some of your questions.

Q:  How will you ever drink any aged wine if you only buy a bottle at a time?

A: On purchasing a bottle, I put it in storage.  Eight, ten, fifteen, twenty years later, I take it out and drink it.  It's worked reasonably well for me for quite some time.

Q:  Would you keep that bottle?

A:  (Not really sure I understand this question.)  As long as there is wine in it.

Q:  Or buy it on the secondary market, in which case you will certainly exceed $100 a week?

A:  (OK, maybe I understand the previous question.  I'll stick with my answer.)  I, personally, do not buy on the secondary market.  It, obviously, works for some people.

Q:  It's OK to drink young wine - most people, including me, do that.  But exclusively? 

A:  That, obviously, is a personal decision.  Above, I've explained my solution.

Q:  Who wants to pay full retail prices?

A:  I don't know about where you live, but in California, retail prices are almost always less than winery prices.  The only way to get a deal at a winery is to join their winery club.  I have done so.  Sometimes I am pleased, and I continue my membership.  Sometimes I am disappointed, and I discontinue my membership.  With regard to lucking into a deal at an auction or a discontinued line, I suppose the operative word there is "luck."  It does not sound like a strategy that I might care to employ.  Frankly, it sounds an awful lot like work.  (Yuck.)  I consider wine to be a pleasure.  I really do not want to work for it on the chance that I might get lucky.  I do understand, however, that some people do not see it that way.  So, fine, it is a good strategy for them.

I seem to have run out of questions that you ask, but here is one back at you:  What is a "basement?"

OK, I know what a basement is.  However, you would be very hard pressed to find a home or a condo or a townhouse in the southwest U.S. that has one.  It is possible to find them, I suppose, but in over 50 years of living here, I cannot remember being in a house that had one.  I will also confess that my survey is, pretty much, limited to middle class domeciles.

I am going to get very pragmatic  and blunt right now.  I do not buy wines by the case, mostly, because I cannot afford it.  I can afford to drink wine every night.  However, the clear implication there is that I do buy and drink quite a few low-dollar wines.  Above I posted that I appreciated a $3.49 wine.  Well, yes, I do appreciate it, but I don't buy it by the case.  I do like to go crazy, sometimes (OK, often) and try a wine that actually cost $10.

I am now going to get a bit philosophical.  (Zufrieden better appreciate this.)  To me wine appreciation is only a portion of food and wine appreciation.  While the food part is a life requirement, I choose to enjoy it as a sensory experience.  It is a moment in time and place.  Once that moment has passed, it has passed.  There is no anticipation of the next experience with the additional expectation that if it is less in any way, then I will be disappointed.  The next experience stands on its own.  Wine appreciation is not a quest for either increasing levels of enlightenment or predicting the perfect moment to open a given bottle with the hopes that my taste buds will orgasm.  (Actually, if you are looking for something that will make your taste buds orgasm, I would suggest the Fresh Raspberry Soda at Sloopy's in Manhattan Beach.)   

Backing down a bit, I do enjoy the intellectual banter and the sharing of wine memories here on this forum.  While I stated above that wine appreciation is a sensory experience, I do understand that knowledge enhances the experience.  I've always enjoyed listening to the Beethoven 5th Symphony, but when I learned about and understood things like Sonata Allegro form back in college, I became amazed by the Beethoven 5th Symphony.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 28, 2012.

Yep, I have never had a basement out here until this house, and the reason we have one--and it's a quarter basement at best, only under one room--is because the house was built in 1904 without central heating.  When previous owners decided to put in central heat (not sure when, but I am told it could have been as little as 20-25 years ago, or slightly before I bought 15 years ago), they had no place to put the furnace.  Actually, the water heater is down there, too.  But the crawl space was too low to fit any of that, so they excavated about a 20x14 area, replaced the old brick foundation, and there's enough space left over (and far enough from any heat source) to store wine, my camping gear, and a few other things.  But basements in California exist only in the outlier town of Piedmont. 

It's possible to drink aged wine as Emark does--buy one or two of an age-worthy wine and save it.  I do it all the time.  Just not cases of it.  In fact, my biggest problem right now is having stuff that hasn't hit the drinking window--and I'm wondering if I might have to drink it or move it if my wife ever changes jobs.

It's also possible to drink pretty darn well for $10-15, better at 15-20.  In that case, anyone whose wife does not consume much wine could consume 4-5 bottles a week and stay under $100 with room to spare for upper end bottles.  The question I meant to ask is, if you were going to limit yourself to $100 a week, as Emark and I probably do, what choices would you make?  Drinker fewer bottles with higher prices, or make some sacrifices and drink more often?  What wines would you drink?

I could economize easily by drinking MAN Chenin Blanc for most of my whites, some Joel Gott SB to mix it up, and, if I was feeling daring, some of the many varieties of Dancing Coyote whites, all of which are usually under $10.  I could drink Montevina Barbera at $8, Charumba from Douro for $7, and maybe that Celliers du Pape CdR in the squat bottle at Trader Joe's for about $7.  Actually, the Epicuro Italian redsat TJs are pretty good across the board, and they sell a Nero d'Avola for about $4 that's not bad.  That would even leave a little room for the occasional bottle of better Cab or Scharffenberger bubbly.  Heck, there's tasty Cremant de Limoux for $13 or so.  You can see why, at least at the lower end, TJs can be appealing.  Just not everything, and it's not going to be life altering. 

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Reply by JonDerry, Sep 28, 2012.

I'm definitely in the drink less often w/ better wines camp.

But it's always worth pursuing inexpensive wines that deliver.

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Reply by edwilley3, Dec 5, 2012.

Like many in the Southern US, I have no basement and the entirety of my storage has to fit in my Eurocave. As a single person, my strategy is twofold: (1) Know where to source good bottles that other people aged carefully, and (2) don't be afraid to drink the good wine.  Some people keep their "nice" wine for a rainy day, only for the rainy day not to come. Me? If I have a good wine and it's ready to drink (i.e. doesn't need aging to soften tannins, etc.), and I have an occasion where the circumstances and food match up with the wine, I drink it.  I prefer to drink fewer bottles of "good" wine than to drink daily.  Excepting restaurant purchases, which always are overpriced, I would say that I drink wine 1-2 times a week pretty consistently throughout the year. My minimum threshold for a wine even as a daily drinker is about $15, with the average these days being close to $25.  If I get lucky this winter, I will stock up on the still delicious 1998 Duval Leroy Blanc de blancs Champagne at $38/each. My most recent purchases were in the $100+ category as we are getting close to the Holidays and i will doubtless need a few nice bottles.

I plan to drink the following over the month of December:

2001 Oreno ($100)

1996 Dampierre Reserve de la Famille ($125)

Various Bell Wine Cellars offerings ($TBD)

A vintage port TBD ($TBD)

Vilmart "Cuvee Rubis" rose Champagne ($99)

1998 Duval Leroy Blanc de blancs Champagne ($38 x multiple bottles)

I suspect that the above list is relatively reasonable compared to some folks here. BTW, I have a couple friends with 800+ bottle collections and I just don't know how they manage it. One of them has CASES of Mouton Rothschild, not to mention many prestige California cabs.  

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 5, 2012.

EdWilley, I hope you got the email from Bell--they had a pretty nice sale a little while ago.  I was prepared to stock up on the Block 6 Canterbury Syrah--a total steal at $25--but I looked at my holdings and they are kind of Syrah heavy now, and then there's just the general runaway condition of my cellar right now...

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Reply by gregt, Dec 5, 2012.

Wow!

I hadn't looked at this thread after I posted a few months ago but something clearly rubbed Emark the wrong way!  I wasn't being condescending at all though. Was simply wondering how you drink aged wine if you only buy a bottle at a time because it seemed a bit eccentric to only buy one and then keep that for 20 years.  If I liked it enough to keep all that time, I'd sure like more!

But at $100 a week divided by seven, that's going to get you just under $15 a day. If you're buying something to store for years, that takes it out of the weekly rotation and the amount is further diminished. I'm hard-pressed to think of many wines in the resulting price category that will benefit from aging.  Personally, I sometimes like to open a bottle of older wine. Also, there are wines that you're not going to age but you want to keep around for a few years to come together. So in either case you're cutting into your $15/day and maybe now you're down to $10.

Now under those constraints, with the hypothetical $100 limit, I'd have to stop drinking wine every day because I'd be permanently looked into the $12 - 15 price category without being able to break out. That's not a bad category - there's a lot of good wine in there and in fact, that's exactly the category in which I'm most likely to buy a case, but it eliminates the possibility of a TBA, for example.

So I'd definitely be in the drink fewer but better camp. Although that's where luck plays a part. If I found, as I did last week, a wine that I really love and it was only $6.99, I'd buy a case or more, which I did. And from experience, I know that wine improves after a few years.

But I don't understand "luck" as being work.  "Luck" is exactly the opposite - you're CAN'T work at being lucky. Hunting around for deals is work. Luck is when they fall into your lap. Like picking up a five dollar bill that was blowing down the street. That's luck. Good luck for you and for whoever lost it, it's bad luck.

As far as basements - that's interesting. I grew up in the building business in the midwest and every house we built had a basement. Always. I learned that in Florida they didn't often do those because of flooding concerns, but I always assumed that basements were pretty much standard in most places. In fact, in all the places that family, friends and I have lived in, I can't remember living anyplace where the house didn't have some sort of basement. Even in Napa Valley, CA, where my uncle was a builder - he built with basements. Basements and useless earthquake trenches. It's really news to me that they're not that common in some parts of the west. My apologies - who knew?

And then there was this:

To me wine appreciation is only a portion of food and wine appreciation.  While the food part is a life requirement, I choose to enjoy it as a sensory experience.  It is a moment in time and place.  Once that moment has passed, it has passed.  There is no anticipation of the next experience with the additional expectation that if it is less in any way, then I will be disappointed.  The next experience stands on its own.  Wine appreciation is not a quest for either increasing levels of enlightenment or predicting the perfect moment to open a given bottle with the hopes that my taste buds will orgasm. 

To that I completely agree. Well and eloquently stated. I don't think I've said anything that contradicts any of that and I hope we're still friends.

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Reply by EMark, Dec 5, 2012.

BFFs Greg.

I am, now, three glasses into a $60 wine.  A major investment for me.  In a little bit I'll be putting a now marinating Costco sirloin on the grill  Life is good.

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