Fact: shopping for wine in a grocery store is perfectly acceptable – but it’s not always easy to find a great deal. Some wine enthusiasts shy away from buying wine at grocery store chains due to the (typically) high markup or limited selection. The thing is, it’s incredibly convenient. And if your store is the type to run case sales or other offers, you can actually find some pretty stellar deals.
The trick is knowing what to buy and how to recognize the value. Here are some important things to do when you’re shopping for wine at the grocery store.
1. Shop during a promotion
The honest truth is, I don’t pay full retail price for wines in a grocery store if I don’t have to; I’m just a bargain hunter by nature. But my local grocery store runs promotions the last week of every month, and that means I can get 20% off the purchase of 12 or more bottles. I seize that opportunity to stock up on crowd-pleasers, like Prosecco and summer rosés, or to replenish my cellar if I’m getting low on staples.
2. Seek out the wines you know
Kind of a no-brainer, but this is a safe way to shop the shelves of any grocery store across the country. When I’m taking advantage of a case sale, I always anchor my purchase with a few bottles of wine I’ve had before, just so I can be certain that something in there is good. And since I’ve bought the wine(s) before, I can tell if it has been marked up or is reasonably priced.
3. Stick to reliable combinations
Believe me - I get it. It’s a downer to open a brand-new wine, feel utterly disappointed by its flavor profile, and know that you paid real money for it. The thing to remember is that this is in the name of research. And as long as you’ve put some solid alternatives in your cart, you can afford to throw a wild card in the mix.
When choosing a new wine, you don’t have to go way out on a limb. Certain regions and wine varietals are generally pretty safe. You pretty much can’t go wrong with these:
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
French Rosé (Rhône)
Imagine that you might actually find your new favorite go-to. The fact that is readily available at your favorite grocery store is icing on the cake.
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4. Look carefully at the label
Many wine labels look nearly identical, and I’ve seen rows where two or more vintages are mixed together. Make sure you are getting the vintage you think you are getting. This can mean the difference between a great value and a less-than-stellar wine.
I’ve also found several examples of inattentive stocking leading to wines sitting atop the incorrect price tag. As above, with wine labels having so many similarities, careful attention is sometimes required to make sure you get home with the right bottle.
5. Check for signs of excessive time on the shelf
Dust on the bottle or discoloration of the label could be signs that the wine has been on the shelf for a very long time. Worse yet, it may have been sitting exposed to heat and sunlight. These conditions can cause it to go bad, so you’ll probably want to steer clear. Conversely, if the bottle appears well-preserved, it could be a chance to snatch up a stellar vintage of something inadvertently mixed in with a newer vintage.
6. Do your own price checking
It’s true: Grocery stores do tend to have higher prices so the sale price seems like a better value than it is IRL. Don’t be afraid to do on-the-spot price checking on your phone. Apps such as Vivino and Wine Searcher can give you an ideaof what others have paid or what it is listed for.
At Claudine Wines, we are committed to providing you with top-quality wines at the best possible value. Check out our current selection here.