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13 Mind-Blowing Facts About Buying Wine And Liquor At Costco

Meet you at the ~club~.

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1. Costco is the nation's largest wine retailer.

Mike Mozart via Flickr / Via Flickr: jeepersmedia

Each year, the retail giant sells almost $4 billion in alcohol, with wine making up almost half of that number. Annette Alvarez-Peters, Costco's beverage alcohol manager, told Market Watch magazine that the chain made $1.69 billion in wine sales in 2016, making it the largest wine retailer in the country.

2. In some states, you can buy wine and liquor even if you're not a Costco member.

@thefermentedfruit / Via instagram.com

In about a dozen states — including California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut — alcohol sales can't be exclusive to a club or membership. So if that applies to your local Costco and you aren't a member, just tell the employee at the door you're buying liquor; by law, they have to let you in.

3. Costco's Kirkland Signature vodka has scored higher than Grey Goose in blind tastings.

@jriverasf / Via instagram.com

In fact, there are lots of rumors that Kirkland and Grey Goose are made at the same plant. According to Munchies, that isn't entirely true — though the two vodkas are made with water sourced from Gensac Springs in Cognac, France. Even more surprising, Munchies explains that Kirkland vodka scored six points higher than Grey Goose in a handful of reputable blind tasting competitions.

4. Wine at Costco is typically priced up to 20% lower than at competing wine stores.

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Costco sells this Brunello di Montalcino for under $20. When you look online to buy this same exact bottle, other wine shops around the country sell it for $28 to $40. According to the Daily Meal, most of the wine at Costco is sold for 10% to 20% less than at other wine stores.

5. No wine is marked up more than 14%.

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According to the New York Times, at Costco "no wine is marked up more than 14 percent, and some barely at all." That's huge — especially when many wine stores usually mark up as much as 50%.

7. You can sometimes find additional markdowns on wines — if you know where to look.

@NewhouseEsq / Via Twitter: @NewhouseEsq

Andrew Cullen, editor of the Costco Wine Blog, told the Daily Meal that if the price of a bottle ends in an unusual set of numbers (for example, $0.79 instead of $0.99), there's a good chance that means it's been marked down even further.

8. Costco sells more bottles of Dom Perignon champagne than anyone else in the country — for more than $100 a pop.

@costcowine via Twitter / Via Twitter: @CostcoWine

Costco's previous wine director, David Andrew, also told the Los Angeles Times that Costco is the country's biggest purchaser of Bordeaux bottles, a region home to some of the finest and most acclaimed wines in the world.

9. Costco has a house brand called Kirkland Signature — and its wines are backed by some pretty surprising suppliers.

@barefootinavineyard / Via Instagram: @barefootinavineyard

Kirkland's brut and rosé champagnes are made by Champagne de Bruyne, and the grapes are harvested from their grand cru vineyard in Verzenay, France, according to Wine Spectator.

10. And the same goes for their craft beer.

@wilddudebeer / Via instagram.com

Costco's line of Kirkland craft brewed IPAs and brown ales come from two breweries in Utica, New York, and San José, California. If you're a beer aficionado, you may have even heard of the breweries, called F.X. Matt Brewing Company and Gordon Biersch, as the Washington Post reported.

11. The selection constantly changes.

@winemodo / Via instagram.com

Costco has a handful of top-performing bottles for under $20, which you'll almost always find on the shelves. These wines include La Crema pinot noir, Coppola claret, and Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc, said Annette Alvarez-Peters in an interview with Market Watch magazine. But Costco's wine aisle is constantly changing. Costo's buyers tailor what's sold at different stores based on local preferences — and you can often find rare, surprising, or collector's items. Alvarez-Peters calls these the "wow" items, which make shoppers want to return. So browse through the wine aisles carefully: It isn't rare to find a boutique label or a highly sought-after wine at an awesome value.

12. They also sometimes stock collector's items.

blogs.harvard.edu / Via blogs.harvard.edu

While Costco sells a ton of bottles under $20 (and even $10), don't be surprised to find rare collector's bottles. According to Wine Spectator, one shopper found three bottles of 2007 Screaming Eagle at a Costco in Redwood City, California. In case you haven't heard of this Napa Valley cult wine, they were being sold for $1,500 a bottle.

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