Supermarket wine

Fine wine makers have mixed feelings about supermarket chains selling their wine.

On one hand, grocery stores offer exciting opportunities to sell to folks who would not set foot in a wine or liquor store.

On other hand, wineries worry about image. What if loyal customers of a winery’s high-end efforts balk when they find winery’s third-level bottles alongside cheap bargains on a grocery aisle?

Quality wine stores sell wine crafted by artisans motivated by more than bottom lines, wines held for years, produced in small quantities, wines never sold in megamarts. Grocery stores provide shelf space and require distributors to maintain inventory and move as much product as possible. Different approach, different ethos.

Supermarket wine is here to stay. Nielsen reports 30,000 grocery stores sold wine in 2014, up nine percent in four years in face of laws prohibiting grocery wine sales in 15 states, including such heavy lifters as New York.

Studies show grocery shoppers spend $47 per visit when they do not buy wine and $75 when they do. Only half the increase is result of wine. Wine buyers go for higher quality foods and are more comfortable investing in a culinary experience. No wonder grocery moguls salivate over wine-buyers.

Wine/liquor stores offer another experience, starting with superior selection of better wines and knowledgable staff—you are pretty much on your own in grocery wine aisles.  At wine store, you likely will have opportunity to order something store doesn’t have, or they can direct you to similar pour. Good wine stores stock stuff you will never find in grocery stores.

Wine is big world. Wine shops and grocery stores co-exist. Start out with value buy to combine with milk and eggs. Later, savor a move up from your local wine store.

Tasting notes:

• Joel Gott Pinot Noir California 2013: Ripe cherry fruitiness, cedar, spice, fig, raspberry; juicy, balanced, soft tannin, smooth, wisely gentle on oak. $18

• Alexander Valley Vineyards Chardonnay 2012. Dependable producer at affordable prices. Delicate beauty, demure citrus, peach, pear, apple. Robert Parker: “Well-made chardonnay is a steal at $18 per bottle.” Agree. $18

Last round: After couple of glasses of wine I am awesome, which is same as being fabulous paired with I don’t care what you think.

Email Gus at Follow tasting notes on Twitter @gusclemens. Website: Facebook: Gus Clemens on Wine.