June 02, 2008

Working the PLCB System

Antonelli Sagrantino di Montefalco 2003

It’s frustrating when you know that the PLCB has an interesting wine in its system but it’s not stocked on the shelves of your local store. However, one of the benefits of having a state-wide liquor control system is that the consumer has access to every wine on the shelves of every state store in the entire state.

In other words, if, for example, the bottle of 2003 Antonelli Sagrantino di Montefalco you want is stashed away in a PLCB store in Allegheny County, there’s a surprisingly efficient way for you to get it.

Here’s how to work the system:

1. Use the PLCB Product Search database to find out which store has the wine you’re looking for.

2. Go to your local store and ask them to contact the store that has the wine and have it transferred to your store for you to pick up.

3. This is the most important step, one that the PLCB clerks don’t always remember to tell you: Make sure to say that you want to pay the extra couple of bucks for UPS shipping. If you do, you’ll have the wine in days. If you don’t, there’s no telling when (or if) you’ll get the wine.

Does it suck that on top of the state’s 30% markup, 18% Johnstown Flood Tax and 7% sales tax you will have to pay even more money to get a wine the PLCB carries? You bet it does.

Would you do this for just any wine? Probably not.

But for certain wines—wines that can be tricky to find, like the Sagrantino di Monetefalco—it’s worth a couple additional bucks to drink something a little more interesting.


Anonymous said...

As to paying more...

It's a surprisingly mixed bag. While the PLCB tends to price inexpensive wine well above the competition, premium bottles can be a fairly ridiculous bargain: I've recently scored some Barbarescos that retail elsewhere for well over $80 for less than $40.

The thing is that the PLCB does not revise prices once the item is in the system. So the bumps that happen elsewhere from good reviews or great vintages never happen here. The reasons for that are unclear, but may be simple inertia.

Of course, the very best (apparent) deals are on older wines, but there you have to contend with storage issues, so it's a bit of a gamble.

Dave said...

Regarding anonymous' comment above:
The PLCB will typically categorize wines by winery and not include vintage which increases the "bargain" factor.


Joe Roberts, CSW said...

Given that the PLCB has made something like $3 Billion in the last 2 years, I'd be willing to bet that any lost revenue in a few expensive wines is more than subsidized by their overpricing of a very large number of everyday wines.

That, and probably paying boatloads of money to butt-licking sycophant lobbyists to keep their unconstitutional monopoly in business.

Man, I hate them. :)