Let’s take a quick break in the action for a little something different, our top five tips for buying wine at Costco.
We like to think we’re pretty good at this, having purchased and reviewed over 1000 bottles of wine from Costco over the last decade plus. So what are some of things we do when we hit our happy place among the Costco wine aisles?
Turns out there’s a bit of a routine, so hopefully you pick up something new here that will help you on your future trips to Costco.
1. Grab a box
Don’t go with loose bottles in the cart. Those also become loose bottles in the car. Also be careful if you put them neck first in the top basket of the cart as sometimes they can roll out the opening where kids’ legs would go. One tip for securing those, is to put the red flip seat up to block the opening.
But a wine box is the best way to go. They are almost always sitting out in the aisle. Grab a sturdy one, and even if you’re only buying a couple of bottles, you can use the extra space in the box for additional items in your cart.
Also, pro tip: keep an eye out for empty (or near empty) wooden wine boxes as you can take those too.
2. Check vintages
Costco is one of the few retailers that doesn’t charge different prices for different vintages of the same bottle. So a crappy vintage and a perfect vintage sell for the same price.
Not the case elsewhere, especially big box stores like Total Wine where the premier vintages can be 10-20% higher than off vintages.
So at Costco, be sure to dig around the bin a bit and see if other vintages of the wine might be a layer or two down. You never know. We once found 3 vintages of the same wine in the same bin.
Also, pro tip: if you really want to scour for a vintage, check the wine boxes stored under the wood display cases. We’ve found other vintages down there, as well as other wines that either sold out or haven’t been put in the wooden bins yet.
3. Check the price
There’s a secret code at Costco and it’s all in the price. You’re looking for prices that don’t end in $0.99. Here’s the key for the code.
Wine ending in $.97 is below regular price, like a sale price.
Wine ending with an eight like $9.88, or 0’s ($9.00) indicate the store is trying to sell through it quickly so you might want to stock up. Kind of like a manager’s special.
Other wines ending with a 9 that isn’t $.99, for example $10.89, $15.79, is a special deal given just to Costco. This means you likely won’t beat that price at other stores; but the bottles ending in $0.97 might still be more heavily discounted.
4. Look for the “Star of death”
When you see an asterisk in the corner of the Costco placard, it means the store is not stocking more of the wine once it sells out. This applies to other items around Costco too.
That’s why we call it the “star of death.” If it’s on a wine you want, stock up right away.
5. Look for Kirkland wines and limited time discounts
This one sounds pretty obvious, but it’s part of our Costco wine shopping ritual. Always look for Kirkland wines, and check the vintage to be sure they’re not sneaking a new one in off cycle.
And remember, the Kirkland wine portfolio is pretty remarkable (for the most part); you can almost rest assured the wine inside will be a fair, and high-quality representation of the origin of the grapes. Try new wines, don’t be afraid to explore, and the Kirkland curated wines are a great way to do that.
And lastly, look for the limited time discount signs. Sometimes these indicate price savings of 40-50% off the already great Costco standard price.
And sometimes, but not always, the sale price actually morphs into the new standard price following the limited time discount period. Amazing when that works out.
There you go. A quick hit of five shopping tips.
If anyone has other tips, pop them in the comments below.