We’ve all been there. The need to run into a grocery store to grab bread or bananas escapes no one. As we swiftly make our way to the till – there, it is. The end-aisle bottle display of a wine we’ve seen a million times, but dare we grab one? It’s convenient and economical, why not? Some wine professionals might urge caution when it comes to grocery store wine. But in reality, there’s an opportunity to drink some real gems when we put our (snobby) opinions aside.
Of course, each country and state abide by differing liquor laws regarding alcohol’s availability on grocery store shelves. But if you live in a place that sells wine in the same proximity as watermelon and Weetabix, then perhaps it’s time to expand your perceptions.
We asked our SOMM TV cast members what bottle they grab when on a grocery run.
That is an unfair question seeing as I live in Napa because we have some pretty epic wines in grocery stores, including Lopez de Heredia and Clos Cibonne. —Meghan Zobeck
My pick is Kendell-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay because I had a bottle about a year ago, and it truly blew me away. For the most popular wine in the USA, it tastes pretty damn good. Check your ego at the door and remember delicious things come in all shapes, sizes, and production levels. —Matthew Kaner
Living here in Napa/Sonoma, referring to grocery store wine can be a little unfair. Even the most mainstream grocery store here is stocked with local wines. I make a point of going back to bigger distribution wines every so often to stay current with what most people are drinking. I like to look for cremant or wines from Limoux for sparkling options for real value. A super affordable and drinkable red is La Vieille Ferme. —Elaine Chukan Brown
I’ve been digging McBride Sisters Sparkling Rosé that I can get at Ralph’s – it’s so easy drinking and delicious! —Claire Coppi
Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay. —Maryam Ahmed
It depends on the grocery store. Raley’s still benefits from all the amazing wines that Curtis Mann, MW, bought. I can often find Henri Gouges from Nuits-Saint-Georges there. And, from Safeway to Bristol Farms, a nice bottle of Louis Jadot Bourgogne Blanc is often on the shelf and at a great price. But don’t sleep on the “locked wine case” often found in grocery stores. You’ll almost certainly find Opus One, Dominus, and some good Bordeaux in that case, and usually at below-average prices. Pro-tip: if the store is rocking one of those “buy six for a 20% discount” deals, load up five bottles of $30 Bourgogne Blanc and make the 6th bottle the Opus…best price on Opus you can get, and the savings alone pays for two bottles of Burg. Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor. Clearly.—Jonah Beer