A supermarket is not a true wine store, but it likely is a place where you buy wine. Who can pass up the convenience of buying toilet paper, green beans, and wine in a one-stop shop experience?
Tips on getting the most out of your big-box buying binge:
• Take the discount deal. Most supermarkets offer a 10 percent discount if you purchase six or more bottles. Never pass that up. Grab one high end wine, then five bottom-shelfers. Great opportunity to satisfy Barefoot and white zin friends while nabbing something special for yourself.
• Ignore shelf talkers and clerks. The scores on shelf talkers are meaningless. Supermarket clerks likely know less about wine than you do. Dark supermarket secret is supermarkets do not sell wine, they sell shelf space. Distributors stock what sells, wines they want to sell—think highest profit margins, and wines they want to get rid of.
• Buy place, not grape. Some stores stock shelves by region. Spain is go-to for quality and value. If the store has Portugal, South Africa, Chile, or Argentina sections—score! In the U.S. section, head to Washington, Oregon, New York, and Texas in addition to California.
• When you buy by the grape, you face peril of poor pours because you recognized the variety and ignored who made it and where it was made. Good chance you are buying low-end wine with a made-up label. Such bottles are called “shiners” because grocery chains buy bottles with no labels and create names they claim as “exclusives.” Shiners are bottles wineries were not willing to put their names on. Think about that.
• Give “other reds” a shot. You may find grapes and blends you have not tried before. Try them. Adventure is vital part of your wine journey, and often “other reds” are less expensive and good wines.
• 14 Hands Winery Hot to Trot Red Blend Columbia Valley 2015: Round, juicy, ripe red fruits; delicious. Widely available in grocery stores. $7-12 Link to my review
• Barefoot Wines, both bubbly and still. Sure, not my everyday pour, but wildly popular. They also make good cocktail mixers. Widely available in grocery stores, even convenience stores. $8-10 Link to my review
Last round: Someone left a grocery list in my cart that said: “wine and stuff to eat with wine.” My soulmate is out there somewhere.