There's really no best place to find good, inexpensive wine. Large chains generally offer the best deals on big, international brands. They can buy them in large quantities for all their locations and pass that savings to you.
A local wine shop will often be able to offer you some great bargains. Sign up for the newsletter to see their monthly features and wine news. Building a good relationship with the wine clerk will go a long way. Ask him what he likes personally and try it. Once you build a rapport, the clerk might even start looking for wines with your taste in mind.
Be sure to shop at the right times. Don't show up the day before Thanksgiving, New Year's or Christmas, or in the hour before dinner. The personnel at your wine shop will be too busy to give you the personal attention you want.
If you spot a good deal, buy it in quantity. Many wine shops offer 5 to 15 percent off when you buy by the case. Some stores will allow you to put together a "mixed case" of different wines and still get the quantity discount.
Before you buy a case of bargain-bin wine, try it first. Ask for a sample or buy one bottle. If you're concerned about missing the closeout sale, keep a wine glass and corkscrew in your car trunk and taste a little before you drive off. You can always go back inside and buy a case if you like it.
Online retailers will do the legwork for you, too, researching vineyards and sampling hundreds of varieties so they can offer you the best deals. Their selection changes often. Before you order wine online, check your state laws. Some states restrict the shipment of wine, and most require a signature of someone over 18 to accept the package.
Maybe you just can't accommodate a case. Don't discount wine boxes. They don't get much respect, but they can actually be a good everyday house wine, and they're better than a lot of bottled wines.
Juice box-type containers, or packaging with a bag inside a box, are actually fine for fresh, young wine. They are easy to tap and inexpensive. A box contains about three liters, or about four bottles, and the price equals about $3.50 to $4.50 a bottle. The key to buying boxed wine is never to buy more than you can drink in the next few months. It will keep in a box for about six months and once opened, will stay fresh for up to six weeks.