Where to buy wine

Where is best place to buy wine? Package store (liquor/wine/beer), wine market, on-line, winery club, grocery store, convenience store? An analysis.

Your local package stores and wine markets are best choices for wine lovers. They give you personal service, can cater to your individual tastes because they know you and know their wine. Pricing is fair, and you can enjoy your buy as soon as you get home.

On-line and winery clubs give you access to wines not always locally available. If you go wine club route, where a winery sends you bottles on a regular schedule, you get pleasant surprises. On-line and wine clubs may promise bargains, but you may pay for shipping. It takes time to get to you, and there is some uncertainty with shipping and heat and jostling; let the wine rest a week or two before opening. Use these as a supplement, not your primary purchase point.

Supermarkets are mixed bag. They provide bargains, especially for simple, “value” wines, but typically you are on your own selecting a bottle. In most supermarkets, wine inventory is maintained by the wine distributors; on-the-floor employees are not part of the picture. In essence, the supermarket only provides shelf space, then takes a cut on sales. Convenience is a plus: you are buying groceries, why not pick up a bottle or two, too?

Convenience stores are a last resort at best. Prices are high; clerks have no expertise beyond how to use a barcode scanner. If you know exactly what you want in a white zin or commodity red or white, this can work in a pinch. Maybe. Next time, plan ahead.

Tasting notes: (Mondavi’s “Private Selection” is supermarket/value brand)

• Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2011. Citrus, restrained oak; clean, vibrant, creamy, California chard. $9

• Robert Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc California Private Selection 2010. Steel tank, crisp acidity; citrus, pear; nice finish; plays well with food. $10

• Robert Mondavi Pinot Grigio Private Selection 2010. Simple; pear, spice, citrus; crisp; plays well with food. $11

• Robert Mondavi Private Selection Zinfandel 2010. Little thin for zin; berry, plum, soft oak; smooth, inoffensive; OK for price. $11

Last round: Wine is the answer. I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your question.