Introducing WineAlign’s Buy The Case Program
A Backgrounder to WineAlign’s Report on Consignment Wines in Ontario, and ten good reasons to buy the case.
Each month WineAlign reports on recommended wines that can only be purchased by the case from importers registered in the LCBO’s Consignment Program. They are ‘already landed and stocked’ wines that can be direct delivered to your restaurant, home or office within days of ordering.
“Consignment” was established by the LCBO primarily to allow restaurateurs access to a far greater selection of wines than is available in-store via VINTAGES and the “General List”. And there are at least as many, if not more, brands in this channel as there are on the shelf – thousands! Individuals can purchase these wines too, but you must order by the case. The LCBO has dictated this, but the economic practicality is that because the wines are delivered direct it is not cost-effective to deliver smaller lots and single bottles.
This month’s Featured Agencies: Hobbs & Co.
Buying a case can be a great approach if it’s affordable, especially when you find a wine you really like. It is actually a well-entrenched model for wine purchasing around the world. But if you don’t do it already, there are actually many good and practical reasons to buy a case. Indeed our report will be using 10 Good Reasons as a way to identify where and how you might get the most of them.
First however, a note on our tasting and selection process. Each month we will taste wines submitted by one importing agent. WineAlign core critics will independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines – good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews will be posted to WineAlign. We will then independently recommend wines to appear in our Buy The Case report. Importers pay for this service. Ads for some wines may appear at the same time, but the decision on which wines to put forward in our report, if any, is entirely up to each critic, as it is with our reviews of in-store wines.
There will also be, in each issue, a paragraph introducing the importer and any particularities of the ordering process. WineAlign is not acting as an agent nor involved in the ordering and delivery process. We are simply bringing our objective reviewing experience to bear, and letting you know what is out there that might be worthy of your consideration.
Ten Good Reasons to Buy A Case
1. Restaurant Pours by the Glass
There are many reasons restaurants would want to buy a case, or more, but finding higher volume wines that are enjoyable by the glass is at the top of their list. This means the wine should be ready to drink, without further cellaring, whether being used as an aperitif sipper or with food.
2. Cellaring Wine
Many wines will come into better balance and gain complexity with age. Restaurants and individuals with existing cellars know all about it. Try a bottle when the case arrives then watch it evolve. You get to know it, and bond with it, and ‘own’ it, and get to know when you will most enjoy it – and similar wines – down the road.
3. Collectible Wine
Wines that have some degree of rarity and perhaps re-sale value are usually traded in case lots. The consignment program does offer wines of this calibre from time to time.
4. Function Wines
Whether it’s a wedding, retirement, business conference or something in between, there are many occasions where volume purchases are required. Usually there are budgetary limitations so we will be on the lookout for lower prices wines that deliver the goods
5. Seasonal Wines
With four distinct seasons of about three months each, Ontario is a prime locale for seasonal by the case drinking. Drinking a case of 12 in a three-month period is actually a very tidy fit and doable. We will also be assuming the wine is suitable for drinking now, in the season just upon us.
6. Personal House Wines
We all want one or two of these around the house, a good quality wine in a style we personally really like, that induces a sense of comfort and relaxation. It’s actually difficult to make a judgment on which will be an ideal house wine and for whom. But we will attempt to pick wines with universal appeal. A house wine should be ready to enjoy without cellaring and be reasonably priced.
7. Gifting Wines
The idea here is to put forward very good examples of popular, recognizable and appreciated regional/varietal wines that may be priced above your normal (personal) range. You can buy a case and give a bottle or two to various friends and associates. This is about largesse.
8. Wine Pooling
These are high quality wines you really want to own, but cannot necessarily afford a whole case of 12. Bu you also know that key friends and family members would also like to be part of a co-operative purchase.
9. Curio Selections
There are always unique, intriguing, off the grid wines that just don’t fit anywhere else. They are not necessarily collectibles in a monetary sense, but they will appeal to wine enthusiasts and explorers, who may want to pool. Or it might a wine you just want to own because it speaks to you.
10. Six Packs Please
Some consignment wines are sold in six bottle cases, usually more expensive wines or those that for some reason are a harder sell through. We will endeavour to isolate these for you.
We welcome your feedback on our Buy the Case program.