Wine festivals: equipping yourself to secure the best deals

When it comes to buying wine, super and hypermarkets are not necessarily the best option, but in-store wine festivals have always been very popular. Here are some tips on how to make the most of them.


Are there always good deals?

Yes, if you prepare ahead. The technique is well-established, and promotions are a classic marketing tool in the mass retail sector. Wine merchants have been obliged to follow suit, as have the e-tailers. However, profit margins fluctuate depending on the product. The prices of certain wines are particularly attractive so that they can be used as loss leaders, but their quantity may be limited. Other marketing ploys include displaying wines reminiscent of famous labels, when they are actually an estate’s second or third wine. Although generally speaking prices are lower than the rest of the year, it is important to do some research beforehand using wine guides and websites for instance.


Is there any point in taking part in pre-festival events?

By hosting previews and launch parties, many stores set the stage for their promotions, offering a great opportunity to discover the wines on offer, and even to taste some of them. Most of these events are free and you simply have to register to receive an invitation. We do not recommend attending fee-paying events, unless you are sure you can try a wine of particular interest to you or very expensive bottlings that are otherwise inaccessible. Don't forget to drink sensibly so that you stay level-headed; incidentally, members of the wine trade systematically spit wines out when selecting them. Going along with friends makes the event even more enjoyable and helps to cross-reference information. Finally, it is a good idea to use a separate e-mail address, to avoid your in-box overflowing with unwanted e-mails for the rest of the year.


Aside from Bordeaux, what other wines are there?

Bordeaux abounds at wine festivals because for many consumers it still epitomises French red wine and the Bordeaux wine trade has long been very efficient at securing listings at these events. However, all French regions are represented - Alsace, Champagne, Languedoc, Loire, Rhone and South-West France for instance - and this is therefore an excellent opportunity to replenish your wine cellar and discover new wines from France’s many wine regions. To do this, you need to do your research beforehand and be bold enough to buy something different!


Alain Echalier