- Costco wines prove to be a major draw for some members.
- Business Insider spoke to Costco Wine Blog founder Andrew Cullen and reviewer Erin Reyes about their top strategies for finding great wines at a good value.
- They recommended tips like always checking the vintage year and making friends with the warehouse wine advisor.
Costco wines, like just about everything else at the warehouse chain, have accrued somewhat of a cult following.
There’s a whole blog – aptly named the Costco Wine Blog – dedicated to reviewing all the whites, reds, rosés, and bubblies the retailer has to offer. The blog is completely independent of Costco, and it’s attracted a community of fans.
“Costco is almost like a curated wine collection for members,” blog founder and editor Andrew Cullen told Business Insider. “You’re not going to go there and find whatever bottle you may be looking for.”
Business Insider recently spoke to Cullen and contributing reviewer Erin Reyes to get their top tips on how to make the most of your next wine run at Costco. Both agreed that the chain tends to offer high-quality wines for reasonable prices.
“We all want to find really good wine at really good prices,” Cullen said. “Costco’s a really good place to do that.”
Here are their top tips for buying wine at Costco:
Look out for Kirkland wines …
“Having access to the selection of Kirkland Signature wines is a huge, huge benefit for any Costco member and wine shopper,” Cullen said. “You can only get them at Costco. You’re getting access to really good wines from top wine regions at really good prices, typically.”
… and take a closer look at the labels.
Costco has a history of partnering up with quality brands in order to craft its Kirkland products. Kirkland wines are no exception. And there’s a subtle strategy for checking out where your wine is coming from.
Cullen said that occasionally, Costco wines list the winemaker on the back of the bottle.
“Then you can Google him or her and find out where they’re producing wine,” he said. “Then you can narrow it down and be like, ‘Well it’s so and so winemaker, and he’s in Washington state, and they produce from this vineyard, so this is probably coming from this area or this vineyard.'”
Don’t be afraid to dig around.
Cullen said that he’s never afraid to dig around in the wine section of the warehouse.
“People think you’re really weird when you’re doing that, but it’s totally worth it,” he said.
That’s because different vintages tend to be thrown in the bins together.
“Don’t just grab the first bottle,” Reyes said. She said that while vintage might not matter as much for lower-end wines, for high-ticket bottles it’s far more crucial.
Cullen described finding separate vintages at the same price.
“If there are a bunch of ’15s on top, you might dig down and find a ’14,” he said. “You might even find a ’13 vintage, stuck in there. It doesn’t hurt to look.”
Cullen also recommended checking beneath the wooden racks, where you might also find a forgotten bottle of an otherwise sold-out wine.
Grab a wooden crate to-go.
Making a big wine purchase? Cullen said he’s never gotten any trouble for carrying out one of the wooden wine boxes in the store – although he clarified that he was referring to the boxes used for shipping, not displays.
Swing by a few weeks before any holiday.
Reyes said that Costco “ramps up” its wine selection in the weeks before holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and Independence Day.
“I would check a week before or two weeks before,” she recommended.
Timing also counts during the week.
Reyes said that typically, wine deliveries come in on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, although schedules might vary between warehouses.
“If you shop earlier in the week, you can kind of get first dibs on the new wine,” she said. “You can also call different clubs to see if they have a wine before you go there, if you’re looking for something specific.”
Always check back — you might find something new.
Costco members know that its product selection is far from static. The same goes for Costco wines.
“There’s always something to look forward to,” Reyes said. “Sometimes, there are unique wines that are hard to find that will just show up and then they’re gone. And then they never come back again, so that’s kind of intriguing.”
But not everything that vanishes from the wine bins is gone forever.
“Wine will disappear and then they will randomly come back three months later,” Cullen said. “You’re like, ‘Whoa, look what’s back.’ People love that.”
Make friends with the club’s wine advisor.
Certain Costco stores employ a resident wine advisor. According to Reyes, it’s a good idea to consult this employee.
“They have no vested interest in promoting a certain wine,” she said. “Their goal is just to increase the wine sales. They’re good resources. They have all the insider info without an ulterior motive.”
Reyes said that a Costco wine advisor might be able to tip you off when “something special” is coming.
But she also said to keep in mind that promoters working with wine distributors can also be found in the section of the store. That’s a job that Reyes herself used to have.
“I was very honest with the members,” she said. “I was sometimes promoting wine that I wasn’t supposed to be promoting.”
These promoters can be knowledgeable about the warehouse’s wine selection, but they also have an incentive to steer you toward the products they’re paid to hawk.
Pay attention to how the wine is organised.
Looking for a particular kind of wine?
Reyes said that most clubs tend to organise the selection by region or grape, but that can vary by location. If you’re looking for something specific, she said to speak with an employee or a wine promoter.
Pay attention to the price tags.
Keep an eye on the price tags if you’re looking for an extra-special deal on Costco wine. Cullen said that the price tags of Costco wines, like all Costco products, will feature asterisks when they won’t be restocked.
He added that prices ending in numbers like .79 or .49 indicate that they have been reduced.
And according to Reyes, wines on rebate will be indicated by signs featuring a highlighted price and an expiration date.
“When wine is on a rebate at Costco, it’s hard to find it at that price anywhere else,” Reyes said. “That’s usually a wine that they have gotten a special deal on and they’re passing the savings onto members.”
Opt for a sample before buying a whole case.
Costco is famous for selling its products in bulk. That’s why Reyes recommends purchasing a bottle of a new wine before springing for an entire case.
Because while it might be tempting to purchase a case-load of wine when it’s on rebate or when you’ve enjoyed previous vintages, you never know.
“If you do like it, come back before the rebate expires,” she said. “And if you like the new vintage the same, go ahead and buy your case.”
Hit up the champagne section.
Cullen is a major fan of Costco’s champagnes. He said the Kirkland variety is an especially valuable deal.
“A really good buy is the Kirkland champagne,” he said. “The Kirkland champagne is $US19.99. That’s insane for real French champagne.”
Mix things up.
Cullen said that when he’s shopping for wine at Costco, he tries to avoid constantly grabbing the same things over and over again.
“Don’t be afraid to try something new,” Cullen said. “Don’t just say, ‘I love Chardonnay, I’m only going to stick with Chardonnay.’ You might be missing out.”
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