Supermarket Wines – Good or Bad?

Let’s get this out up front. Supermarket wines are good! Most wine critics and wine writers would disagree. This group often refers to supermarket wines in a derogatory manner. They can only think that those who shop for wine at supermarkets are out of touch when it comes to choosing good wine. Can’t you see their eyeballs rolling to the top of their heads if you told them you shop for wine at your neighborhood supermarket? This perception could be changing.  Finally, one wine columnist is giving supermarket wines a shout out. Lettie Teague wrote a very informative article on supermarket wines in this past Saturday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal.  Lettie’s article is best summed up in this video that accompanies the article in the online version of the WSJ.

One reason I believe that supermarket wines have changed for the better over the past decade is that winemaking has improved. It is easier to make better wine these days at affordable prices. A savvy wine shopper should be able to find many wines at the Supermarket that are good values at bargain prices. Many are big production wines. Big wine production translates to more affordable prices, but not necessarily poor quality. For example, Louis Martini 2012 Sonoma Cabernet. It sells between $12 and $14 and can be found on most supermarket shelves in good supply. It is a great wine at this price. Tasty, and good drinking! Even Robert Parker likes this wine. This blog is filled with recommendations for wines under $20 that we have purchased at the Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, and Costco.

These Rosé wines are at my local Safeway. Their fantastic wines.

These Rosé wines are at my local Safeway. They are fantastic tasting wines.

Not all supermarket wine departments are equal. The good ones have someone there in charge of the department who can direct you to a wine you are looking for. Maybe it is the jug wines that give Supermarket Wine the bad press. I stay away from the jugs, but for others it may be their cup of tea. I like to support my local wine merchants. When I am in their area I always stop in and take a look around the shelves and buy at least a bottle; I can’t resist. The big advantage of a good wine shop over a supermarket is the knowledge of the staff and the wonderful boutique wines they carry. Usually these wines are made in small quantities and the winery cannot supply a supermarket chain with enough inventory. The advantage of the supermarket is the convenience for shoppers who can do grocery and wine shopping all in one place. Don’t feel bad about admitting that you like supermarket wines. You are a savvy shopper!

SuperBowl Guacamole

My family recipe for Guacamole. Just perfect for SuperBowl Sunday paired with a glass of Riesling, Gerwurztraminer, or a Rhone-style red.  Make it in the morning or just before the game. Get some plain tortilla chips and chow down.

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