28 Sep 2011
Wine does not have to be an extrodinary out of the way journey. It can be as simple as getting in your car and driving to the local grocery store. Let’s face it, on a weekly basis the average wine drinker doesn’t spend more than $10 on a bottle of wine. We call this “house wine” for a reason. House wine is like that old comfortable chair in the corner of your living room. It’s comfy and it’s home.
Recently, I took a trip to Trader Joes and spent half an hour explaining to this very nice wine staff person that I was looking for a Sicilian white wine I had bought there about a month ago. The wine was called Isola D’Oro and it was a fragrant white wine, which flavors I recalled so intensely. I remembered that the wine was about $9. He assured me that they did not carrry this wine and when I insisted I found it there, he called his manager over to assist me. I recounted the story to him and I told him that a very large yellow and black bird was on the label. He laughed and said, “Miss, we don’t carry any bottles with birds on them.” And he was right, I had the wrong store! It was another small market down the road called Bianchini’s. At that moment, I felt like a complete idiot. I was ranting on about this Sicilian white with a bird on it with so much excitement and here I was at the wrong store. But, the staff person made another suggestion for a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Australia from a winery called Picton Bay. The wine he described as full of citrus and crisp flavors of apple and pear.
This experience reminded me of two things. One, that drinking too much wine makes you forget. It’s best to write down where you find good wine. And two, that your local grocery store is filled with great wine with knowledgeable people that are as willing to help as much a sommelier at a sophisticated restaurant.
If you are looking to explore the local grocery store wine aisle and not sure where to start, I suggest first that you try Trader Joes, because my experience is that their staff are always available to offer suggestions and they operate a little differently than the larger supermarket chains. That is not to stay that Albertson’s, Safeway, Lucky’s or other markets will not be good to try and offer less of a bargain.
When looking for a wine, often times people forget to read the back of the label. This is the easiest way to get a sense of what the flavors of the wine are, if it’s a heavy or light wine, and what it will pair best with. Finally, the best way to get to know a wine is to open it and try it. Be a little adventurous and try wines from other countries in the market aisle. New World Wines have come a long way and they are comparable to some of California’s best.
My wine find:
2007 Corbera Isola D’Oro $8.99 . Bianchini’s market or online.
Other Great Picks (Safeway, Trader Joes and other major grocery stores)
Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay
Peachy Canyon Zinfandel
Alexander Valley Vineyards Temptation Zin
Trader Joes Reserve Syrah
J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon