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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have collected wine for over 15 years, and something has always bothered me. I purchase wine direct through a winery "club," but when I go to a wine shop, often the same wine is there—and less expensive. Shouldn't the winery be giving its customers a break, or is there something which keeps them selling to distributors at a greater discount?

—G., Mission Viejo, Calif.

Dear G.,

Wine prices vary for a number of reasons. Prices can differ in different markets, wines nearing the end of their shelf life may be discounted to move them more quickly, and distributors and retailers (who each make profits on the sale of every bottle) can lower prices on one bottling because they are making money on other bottlings.

Wineries rarely want to undersell their own distributors, so prices at wineries are rarely bargains. However, wineries often try to offer wine club members special bottlings or give them first dibs on wines before they're widely available. It's up to you if this special treatment is worth paying a little extra.

—Dr. Vinny

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