This was posted amidst the spam, so i'm bumping it...
My mother is going to Italy in September. Before I hand her money and
ask her to start hunting for my favorites, I wonder if some of you
know the answers to the following:
1) How much cheaper will the wine be? Take a Barolo that costs $50
here, what will it cost there?
2) How much can you ship home, and how much can you take home? I
live in MA, but have friends that I could ship to in NH and CT.
I'm not sure the price difference (if there is one) is worth the hassle of
carrying or shipping the wine home. How many bottles were you anticipating
purchasing? It's been my experience that unless it's a really unique wine that
never makes it to the US that most all of the normal bottlings can be purchased
in the States at or near the price in Italy allowing for currency exchange,
taxes, shipping, etc.
The operative word for shopping is Vecchio, by now almost all the 1988-1990
wines are gone from shelves in the US. Get a good vintage chart that breaks
Italy down into regions and have your mom look for age worthy reds from
1970 -1990. If you stick to Barolo, Barbaresco, Chianti Riserva, Brunello,
Carmignano, Vino Nobile and Amarone you'll have some real gems. In the
south Mastroberandino's Taurasi Riserva and Lungarotti's Monticchio aree
collectables. In this day and age a search of the internet for shops in
cities your mom would visit would be good preparation. For new wines prices
should be significantly lower because there is no exporter or importer to
add theier 10-30 gross profit to the enoteca price.
Joe "Beppe" Rosenberg
In article ,
There's a barolo that costs only $50 here?
I am somewhat joking, but I know that the Wall Street Journal (or maybe
New Yorker?) has a periodic review of wine where they compare, say, white
burgundies or California zinfandels. The limit that they will spend
on any given wine is $50. When they reviewed barolo they couldn't find
enough wines under $50 to complete the flight so they had to raise their
I have seen barolo priced rather cheaply, but something tells me it is not
Great advice, thanks Joe. I'm going to call her and ask which cities she's
visiting... Should I have her look for wines that are from the city that
she's in at the time? Or are they all pretty well diffused.
My experience in the 80's & 90s were that in places like Venice, Verona,
Milan, Florence & Rome there was an ecumenical selection but enotecas in
places like the Langhe, Aosta and chianti country specialized almost
exclusively in local wines. I made some of my best buys in restaurants and
wineries who wanted to liquidate inventory for $$$s. For that you'd have to
be there yourself. But I paid the equivalent of $20 US for a Sassiacia
(82?) when wholesale for this wine was $35 in Maryland. Enetoca de Rham in
Florence is probably on line by now and is a treasure trove of unique wines.
Shipping home is more difficult now then when I was buying out Italy. What
I did since I was ITB was arrange for local importers to ship my booty back
for me, this assumes customs doesn't demand a specific bill of lading for
these "samples". Airport customs were usually forgiving about excess
amounts of wine; nobody in the 80s or 90s wanted to hold up a line of
returning tourists to collect a few extra bucks for the US Treasury. It
also helped that I was a past president of the same union as many of the
customs guys and wore my past presidents pin when I had to go through
customs, even people who belonged to the rival NTEU usually waived me
Joe "Beppe" Rosenberg
Prices are somewhat lower but shipping is complicated and expensive
enough that you probably wouldn't find it worthwhile. So you're
pretty much limited to what your mother is willing to lug around ;^)
One technique employed by people who want to bring wine back is to
take a wine shipper (the kind with they styrofoam insert) and check it
as baggage, empty going out and filled up coming back. Only one liter
(in other words, one bottle) of wine or other alcoholic beverage is
allowed to be included in they duty free $800 allowance but the taxes
charged on additional wine is very small and almost never collected.
If you have your mother bring wine back for you, she should keep track
of what she's spent and how much she has - it all goes better if
you're completely upfront at at customs.
- Mark W,