Come Christmas and CNY, wine folk in the know would understandably rub their hands at the sight of wine sale ads on local dailies. Words would spill onto online bargain site in a blink. It was only on my first oenophilic anniversary did I discover such glorious opportunity to stock up my stash and to experiment with wine yet to be tasted, in an economical fashion.
It is no secret that Cold Storage and Giant TMC usually cash in on the festivities a week or two before the big days. They’d hold a 3-day wine fair at selected venues (Solaris Mont Kiara and Bangsar spring to mind) with the backing of major distributors namely Mui Hua and Luen Heng. The gourmet grocer in fact hosts the occasional promotion no less than 3 times a year. By and large, the selection up for grabs is more often than not limited to older, dire middlings down to obscure plonk, though rare Canadian Icewine does make an excellent steal. Sure, there are some vastly available labels selling for a few bucks cheaper on the regular shelf, but IMO the real deal lies elsewhere in a certain warehouse. For instance, you could save as much as RM11 on a Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc by comparison.
The annual year-end sale at Vintry, PJ is a different universe of wine encounter altogether. You can rub shoulders with geeky patrons and salesclerks worth their salt in a buzzy, convivial wine bar. When in Rome, you might as well do as the Romans do: grab a glass and start sipping your way through more than 20 pours to help narrow down your pick for a mixed case, so to speak. Conspicuous storewide discounts—coupled with the effect of free tasting—have had the thirsty crowd psyched up before a good variety of selections. For one weekend only, those boldfaced numbers (10% for the shelf, up to 30% for the rest) would seriously take the sting out of your credit card bill. A couple of hours later, I walked away with a half case and the lingering aftertaste of Mosel Riesling in what had been a fruitful maiden visit.
[In retropect, Vintry is an on-trade wine bar after all. You may still find a few wines selling for less elsewhere. On the upside, you get to taste some before committing!]
No wine shopping season is complete without hitting a warehouse sale. The clearance sale at Milawa warehouse, Kepong holds its own and attracts its fair share of following, in part due to the scarce presence of the labels it carries at the ubiquitous supermarkets. In the words of an anonymous salesclerk, they primarily cater to the high-end niche: think fancy hotels, fine dining and specialty stores (Vintry, Ben’s Independent Grocer, Village Grocer, etc) .
The cast of trophy wines here would make any seasoned connoisseur salivates. I felt like a kid in a candy store, literally, at the sight of the majestic Bordeaux First Growths (the legend that is 1982 Lafite-Rothschild, Haut-Brion), the rest of the ridiculously-priced clarets (Pichon-Longueville, Pavie), the cream of Super Tuscan (Solaia, Sassicaia, Ornellaia), noble Italian reds of Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino (Cassanova di Neri) and the best of Andes (Catena Zapata). Be extra delicate when you tiptoe your way through those heavenly stacks. Back on earth, casual tipplers too have a field day. The 20-25% discounts (off NRP) make a sea of rich pickings look every inch a bargain. Perhaps not surprisingly, ladies enamored with the idea of bubbly romance are particularly keen on big-name Champagne houses, but I suppose other sparklers will do, and for much less. All said, the Milawa warehouse sale has been nothing short of a handsome treat to budget-conscious wine lovers it’s worth popping a bubbly. Well, I’d got another half case nicely fit into a beautiful Oreno wooden case, thanks to the anonymous salesclerk.
[In retrospect, it isn’t exactly the warehouse price you’d expect. Then again, the same bottle gets real pricier elsewhere…]
Elsewhere, an one-day Asiaeuro promotion was spotted at a Christmas Bazaar at Taman Bandaraya, Bangsar in December. Luen Heng F&B also holds its warehouse sale, one for each festival at their Cheras headquarter. WW Wine Warehouse—the self-proclaimed largest wine retailer in town—follows suit with CNY promotion at Puchong; all of which I was too broke to visit after the aforementioned splurge.
There’s always next year, though. In the meantime, you might wanna start working on your list now…