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Continued: Good wines, cheaper prices at discount stores: a comparison of costs

  • Article by: BILL WARD , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 19, 2013 - 7:00 PM

Sam’s Club

The space: Cavernous; inventory is poorly organized

The service: Sparse but quite cordial

The selection: A wealth of familiar brands from the lower price spectrums (Blackstone, Cook’s, Ménage à Trois), with a few oddities (Chianti with a straw covering!)

Target customer: People looking for familiar brands at rock-bottom prices

Other libations: Virtually all of the usual suspects and a few more exotic choices

House brands/exclusives: None

The actual wines: In trying to find something distinctive, I sampled Newman’s Own California Cabernet Sauvignon ($9), Sockeye Central Valley (Chile) Pinot Noir ($11), the Bottaro Chianti ($8.50) and the Cantina Zaccagnini Pinot Gris ($12). All were drinkable but just barely. This is probably not a great outpost for the adventurous wine drinker.

 

 

Trader Joe’s

The space: Compact; inventory is well-organized

The service: Engaged, enthusiastic and knowledgeable

The selection: Often-unfamiliar brands with “cool” labels, plus a boatload of Charles Shaw/Two- (actually Three-) Buck Chuck; bonus points for carrying local stuff (WineHaven)

Target customer: People who are adventurous but very value-oriented

Other libations: Limited supply, mostly value-level but well-chosen

House brands/exclusives: Exclusives are labeled, often cryptically except for Trader Joe’s brands

The actual wines: A $10 Barbaresco (from exclusive brand Rocca dell’Olmo)? Believe it, and enjoy its soft, barbera-like goodness. The Black Mountain Pinot Noir ($7) and Trader Joe’s Coastal Zin ($5) were simple and consumer-friendly. The Trader Joe’s California Reserve Sauvignon Blanc ($6) was a buy-it-by-the-case fabulous find; the Villa Alena Moscato ($8) delicious.

 

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