Did you know that nearly ⅔ of all wine sold in the US is sold in grocery stores and supermarkets? And a majority of the people buying wines in grocery stores are women, who are responsible for household shopping. Not surprisingly, a number of wine brands specifically targeting women buying wine in grocery stores have popped up over the years (see Mad Housewife, Mommy’s Happy Hour, among others).
Many shoppers prefer one-stop shopping, from groceries and home essentials to alcoholic drinks. Grocery stores like Kroger, Albertsons, Costco, Target, and Walmart have extensive grocery and beverage aisles with low prices and big brands. Trader Joe's is known for its vast wine selection at a reasonable price.
You can scour and find hidden gems from aisle to aisle like hunting treasures. Grocery store wine selections are accessible if you're cooking with wine and need something quick and straightforward. But when you are new to wine, buying in grocery store wine departments can be overwhelming and it’s easy to get lost. Shelves are stacked high and filled with dozens of wine brands from all over the world.
How Do You Know Where to Start?
For one, only 36 US states are allowed to sell wines in grocery stores. Whether you’re newly wine-curious, or a seasoned wine drinker, buying wine in grocery stores might not be your best choice. There are pros and cons, and buckle up because some may be surprising.
Boutique Wine Shops Aim for Quality and Selection and Not Your Run-Of-The-Mill Kind
Most wine in grocery stores is manufactured by giant alcoholic beverage companies focusing on quantity, not quality. These mass-produced wines can be adequate for drinking in their youth and usually represent the region they came from and the grapes used. The wines are perfectly serviceable but hardly remarkable.
Think about how the wines on grocery store shelves are kept. They are stored upright, which tends to dry out the cork if there is one. The intense fluorescent light can impair flavors and aromas. The bottles may remain on the shelves until the wine is spoiled or past its prime. And, often the warehouse or even store temperature is variable, which can significantly affect the wine.
Specialized wine stores are designed with wine in mind. These gems are stored on their sides in properly lit, temperature-controlled rooms. They are arranged either by style, country, or region. Wine regions specify the grapes and type of wine in the bottle. Exclusive wine stores will have in-depth libraries of top-selling wines from Italy, France, Spain, and the USA, champagne, and sparkling wines.
With so many brands to choose from and several types of wine under one label, wine shopping can be outright intimidating. So how do you find your perfect match?
Exclusive Wine Stores Have In-House Wine Experts to Assist You
Wine stores bring in wine-passionate people. They employ experts who can serve their clients best. Sommeliers acquire wine knowledge through rigorous study and testing with organizations like the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), the International Sommelier Guild (ISG), and the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS). Wine students and professional wine sommeliers relish studying wine and passion about sharing what they know with anyone who will listen. Make friends with them.
When you are just starting your wine adventures, wine shops with sommeliers are your go-to's. They will ask and listen to your answers and build your understanding by discovering similar wines from different producers, regions, and countries for you to relish. These personal talks will help you create a collection of wines you can go to repeatedly.
Wine pros know about wines from all over the world and are also great at wine and food pairings. Wine blossoms with the right food pairing, a perfect match made in heaven.
Essentially, when it comes to wine shopping, get expert advice when you can. Build a relationship with a local or online wine expert.
Start journaling; write down what you like and don't like in wine. Or, use a wine app to catalog photos and notes.
Big Hammer Wines
The wine experts at Big Hammer Wines taste thousands of wines every year from around the globe, looking for quality and value. This special offer reflects the passion we have for our clients.