Groce Out gold
Wanna get buzzed on the cheap? I’ve got a plan.
Starting next week I’ll be writing an occasional review in SN&R’s Drink Me section highlighting crazy wine steals that you can find at Grocery Outlet. Why’s that?
Because I’m returning to journalism after a two-year hiatus in the wine world and I don’t want to let all the knowledge I’ve acquired at Matchbook Wine Company go to waste.
You read that right: I left a cushy job at a Yolo County winery to get back to writing about homelessness and bait bikes. One reason for that is that I’m a moron. Another reason is that I’ve deeply missed sparking discourse about societal ills that we, as a community, ought to take on.
But just because I’ve returned to being a lowly, underpaid scribe doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to enjoy the occasional good wine. I’ve just got to be smart about it.
In his celebrated, weekly wine newsletter Vintage Experiences, Dan Berger last year wrote about making occasional visits to Grocery Outlet and finding great wines selling at a fraction of their suggested retail prices—then buying them by the case. It blew my amateur wino mind hole to learn that one of the most celebrated wine writers in the nation would set foot in the place where I get most of my drinks.
The thing about the wine industry is that the market is wildly saturated. Due to this saturation, many fantastic wines just cannot make a dent in the marketplace. Each year, wineries that don’t want to hold onto their particularly difficult sellers will send them in bulk to places like Grocery Outlet at a fraction of the retail price. That’s why it’s not unusual to go down there and find a $20 bottle selling at around four bucks.
Now, before you get too excited about this brilliant new Groce Out feature, I should note that I am no Dan Berger. I will say that I can write, I can drink, I’ve learned a good deal about wine these last two years and—possibly most important—my palate isn’t awful.
I’ve also got Dave, the Capitol Avenue Grocery Outlet manager, in my corner. I’m not sure if he knows Brettanomyces from Britney Spears, but he’s enthusiastic about his wine aisle and willing to recommend his favorites so I don’t have to drink myself to the grave.
Here are the rules: I’ll buy wines priced at $10 and under at Grocery Outlet, then give my honest-to-Dionysus reflections. SN&R pays for these wines. Neither Grocery Outlet nor any winery will provide anything on this journey (except for manager Dave’s insight). I’ve already disclosed that I worked at a winery for the past two-ish years, but I do not expect to come across any of their wines for this column.
Sound good? Good. Tune in for the next installment, in which I review a $4.99 California petite sirah.