If I were to review my Costco purchases at the end of the year, it would appear as though I'd spent quite a bit of time wandering down each aisle every time I visit. Costco has a unique way of making the unnecessary necessary. While I always end up with at least a couple of things in my cart that were not on the shopping list, when “case of wine” is on the list, I have a laser-focused plan. In this blog post, I’m going to walk you through how I put together a case of wine while in the wooden-bin Shangri-La that is the Costco wine section. Did You Know? Costco is the #1 Wine Retailer in the WORLD.
I start by finding an empty case-box. I’ve learned over the years that I should face reality and even though I used to tell myself I was only getting a few bottles, it always ended up being 12 or more. So starting with a box with twelve slots is my version of restraint.
My plan in Costco is 8 or 9 every day drinkers. “Every day drinkers” is code in my house for “My wife can always open it, even if I’m not around.” Now before you get upset about their being off-limits wine, the fact is she prefers to have “safe” wines to choose from. A story for another day, but there was once a French Chablis that was used in potato soup…But I digress. In the warm months, my everyday drinkers means some sort of dry white wine. I’ll then round out the case with at least one sparkling wine and a mid or higher-end wine; and definitely a couple of new things to try. So let’s walk down the (wine) aisle together!
Coscto’s wheelhouse (for me) is in the under $20 category. Here's what I found on this trip:
I know I am looking for a light white wine, but I am not overly concerned on the varietal. This might be a chance to try something new, so long as it is in the right price range. Recently, I have liked Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris (or Vin Gris), Sauvignon Blanc and dry (not sweet) Riesling. And Rosé. Love Rosé! A couple of notes on rosé first. It is note a grape itself. It is a a style of wine. Usually light in color due to its limited contact with the grape skins during the fermentation process. Unlike a cabernet sauvignon which may macerate in a tank for days or weeks before being pressed and moved along in the winemaking process, rosé may sit only for hours before going through fermentation. The result is only a bit of color imparted on the wine. So when I hear “rosé,” I think, “rosé of what?” Rose can be made from nearly any grape, but popular varietals are Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre and Sangiovese. Costco has a Kirkland Signature Rośe, too. It is exceptional! It is almost worth a case purchase by itself. I've seen this priced from $5.99 to $7.99, but either way, it is the perfect thing to drink on a warm night on the patio.
Alright, I’m in for probably two of each. If I see something in the aisle that I am unfamiliar with, I often pick one up. It’s how I expand my palate. That’s something I try to do quite a bit. Something comfortable and something intriguing…balance, right? And there we are...8 spots complete! Ahh, one more thing. Champagne! I can (and will) do an entire blog post about buying Champagne, but for know, if you happen to see the Kirkland Signature brand Champagne ($19.99). Buy it. Don't think, just do. It is classic French bubbly. Sophisticated in complexity and an excellent value. If I were blind tasting this and asked about price, I would say $40-50, easy.
A quick side-note on sparkling wine. Costco also carries a Spanish Prosecco ($7). It is absolutely perfect for mimosa's on Sunday-Funday or to make cocktails that call for Champagne. I always have two or three in the wine fridge because I am definitely NOT pouring orange juice into anything French.
3 spots to go! Decisions...
Here's where I try to have a bit of fun. Look for something in a comfortable price point, but perhaps something you have never tried. As I said at the outset, Costco wines are amazing values and incredible prices for the things they stock. With that in mind, I'm looking for a couple of things in the $20-$30 range. Here's what they had today:
I am familiar with the "Saldo" so I might get one of those and then something else I am less familiar with. This expansion my wine knowledge, and who knows, perhaps I'll find my next "favorite" wine. With the last spot in my case, I try go for something high erend. I figure that one out of twelve can be an "occasion" wine. Occasions need not be anniversaries or birthdays, however. A random Tuesday night, when the kids are magically compliant in getting to bed, and my wife and I have Netflix on, can be the perfect occasion for such a bottle.
OK, so full disclosure. I know all of these wines very well. They are all very good! Here is where it pays to know a little bit about vintage variation. Was 2014 a good year in France? What about California? Costco tends to keep prices steady, so if you have the choice betwen, say a 2011 or 2012 Cabernet from Napa Valley at the same price point, it would be good to know that 2011 was only a so-so year. We are done! Walk away...no run! before you decide that you need a second case.
There is so much turnover in stock and variation from store to store at Costco that it is hard to give you a definitive list of the best things to buy. Next up, I'm going to review the top five documentaries or wine-related movies! (Spoiler alert...Paul Giamatti will be making an appearance!)
As the recipient of many well-intentioned but unused wine gifts, I feel compelled to act on behalf of all wine drinkers.