The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Case of Wine
Wine lovers buy bottles of wine. Wine fanatics buy cases.
Learn how much is in a case of wine, what it should cost, and how to put together a great mixed case.
Ultimate Guide to Buying a Case of Wine
How Many Bottles Are in a Case of Wine?
A standard case in the US contains 12 bottles (750 ml each) of wine. This is nine liters of wine, total. The best part about buying wine by the case is what we call the “Costco Factor.” By buying in bulk, a discount often applies.
- Special bottle sizes are often sold in different case sizes. (E.g. magnums, splits, etc.)
- High-end wines are typically offered in cases of six.
Many retailers throw in a 10 to 20 percent discount when you opt for a full case of wine. (Yeah, really!) Online shops may also offer free shipping for case orders as well. This is a huuuuge money saver.
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How to Build a Great Mixed Case
The perfect mixed case comes in all arrays, depending on the wine drinker, the occasion(s), and the budget.
Why Are You Buying Wine?
- I need a catch-all case to have on hand for everyday drinkers and dinner pairings.
- I need a mix of bottles for an upcoming barbecue or other special event.
- I want to challenge my blind tasting skills with a comparative tasting of classic wines.
- I want to expand my palate by adding a few quirky, obscure grapes to my usual faves.
For a Great Basic Starter Case:
- 2 sparkling wines
- 5 whites (some light, some bold)
- 5 reds (some light, some bold)
From there, customize your case.
If there are plenty of rosé options available, take away two whites and add in two bottles of rosé instead.
Love sparkling but hate red? Sub a few bottles of bubbly instead of so many red wines.
Hate light reds? Add a few more full-bodied ones – although, it’s always good to try at least one new thing.
And, it never hurts to add in something sweet for dessert. The possibilities are endless!
How Much is a Case of Wine?
That depends. Cases are found and assembled across many price points, but you should plan to spend at least $100 for decent quality.
If that sounds like a lot, remember – you’re getting a dozen bottles of wine – that’s less than $10 per bottle!
To get a target case price, multiply the price of your usual bottle by 12. This will get you a case of wine slightly above the quality that you’re used to, since you’ll be getting a case discount. Here’s a general idea of what you’ll get with a 10 to 20 percent discount:
Value-driven wines with a bit more diversity, with an average bottle price of $12. Opt for a few $8 to $10 bottles, and you can add in a few $16 to $18 bottles to explore something new too. For the most part, these are bulk-made wines, but that doesn’t mean they’re low quality.
Good-quality wines, with an average bottle price of $15. Get a few Douro red blends around $10 and you could spring for the $20 Willamette Pinot Noir or Etna Rosso. Choose lesser-known regions and more affordable wine countries for the best value.
Very good-quality wines, with an average bottle price of $20. You could probably add in some classics, like Chablis or Rioja, and still get excellent bottles from less expensive regions like the Loire Valley, the Finger Lakes, or Washington. This is the sweet spot for great quality wine at a great value.
High-quality wines, with an average bottle price of $30. If you’re a fan of big-name regions like Napa or Bordeaux, expect to spend at least this much. This price point should get you the best wines from lesser-known regions and beginner bottles from popular regions.
Very high-quality case, with an average bottle price of $50. This is a “treat yo’self” case, filled with Champagne, Burgundy, and Barolo. Get a few Rosso di Montalcinos or Sonoma Chardonnays around $30 and you could probably splurge for an aged wine or vintage Champagne.
Pro-Tip: Get one or two splurge bottles (like that Barbaresco you’ve been eyeing but is just a bit above your usual wine budget). The case discount will help reduce the cost, and the other, less expensive bottles will balance out the total.
If there’s a wine shop that you trust and you’re up for an adventure, make your retailer’s day by asking her to put together a mixed case for you. Give your budget and wine preferences, and you’ll probably end up with a case filled with happy surprises. (And, you’ll make a friend for life).
Buying wine by the case is a great way to save money, explore new wines, or characterize your household with a designated “house bottle.” Soon you’ll be wondering why you haven’t been buying cases all along – and how they always seem to disappear more quickly than you expected.