The Other Mother’s Little Helper…

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wines from the Grocery Store | Comments Off on The Other Mother’s Little Helper…

Editor's note: This post was written on Mother's Day

target winesThis morning I received the greatest gift a mother could get: My preschooler slept in. This bit of amazingness allowed me the opportunity to wash dishes and scrub the toilet. It's Mother's Day not Miracle Day – these things aren't gonna clean themselves.

And so it went until I found myself at Target.

Let me be clear: Normally, I do not buy wine from household discount retailers! But I was there anyway, my son was in tow and I wasn't about to drag him to another store, so I made the best of it.

And, actually, “making the best of it” was surprisingly easy.

As one would expect, Target has an incredibly small selection. The store where I was shopping carried fewer brands than my local grocery store. But, that being said, there was actually an okay selection of decent wineries, with prices starting at around $6 for a Barefoot Merlot and going all the way to $32 for a  2006 Stags Leap Merlot. Also on the shelves was a 2007  Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio  for $10, a 2007 Hess Chardonay for $11, a 2007 J Lohr Cab Sav for $14, and Moet & Chandon White Star Champagne for $37. Honestly, I was really just expecting a box of good ol' Ernest and Julio Gallo.

I decided on a 2006 Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel. I happen to be a huge fan of Ravenswood Zin, and this one ravens_wood_vintners_zinfandel_2006was even on sale! $6.99 marked down from $9.99.

I'm used to seeing these wines start at around $12 and go up from there. But lately I've noticed a preponderance of 2006 Ravenswood Zins on the market between $6 and $10, and I've wondered if 2006 was a bad year for them.

I think so. Probably.

The normally rich, mellow body seemed sharp and sour in this bottle – it tasted very, very “young.” Perhaps it would've been improved by more time to breathe, although the bottle was open for almost an hour before I could settle down and enjoy my first glass. It was still a delicious wine, but this one – the bottle of wine I bought on sale at Target, let me remind you – didn't possess the depth and deliciousness I've come to expect from a winery that's widely known to produce some of the best Zins on the market in the under $25 range.

This, of course, did not stop me from drinking the whole bottle. Happy Mother's Day to me!

My take-away from all of this? 1) If a solid wine suddenly sells for far below its average retail price, there is probably a reason. Go for something known to be scrumptious on the less expensive side (stay tuned for that piece). Just because the winery is well-known for higher-end varietals, doesn't mean their budget-priced products will be worth their salt 2) Target never stops proving its usefulness, and 3) It's really hard to explain a cheap wine hangover to a four year-old.

Tales from the grocery store…

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wines from the Grocery Store | 1 Comment

This is a new feature I'm starting to show everyone how easy it is to buy great wine at fantastic prices. The only times I ever spend more than $20 on a bottle of wine are as follows:

  1. When I'm out wine tasting in wine country somewhere.
    I'm usually caught up in the moment (buzzed if it's the end of the day) and willing to pay full retail under these circumstances.
  2. When I'm buying someone a gift (I'll often spend $20-50 on a bottle for a friend)

Otherwise, there's no reason to spend more than $20 on a bottle of wine. Ever.

It's actually quite easy and here's my recipe:

  1. Find a store near you with great prices (there must be one) and visit it often (I like Safeway stores, best prices around, plus you get a 10% discount if you buy any six bottles)
  2. Find a store near you that gets special deals (they buy large quantities of small-production wines) and get on their mailing list (I like the Wine House, best prices at a wine-specific store on this side of town)
  3. Only buy on sale! (This is my all-time money-saving tip for everything… it stretches your dollars by however much you've saved)

My latest trip was especially triumphant… here's the tally:

  1. 2008 Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc (made from Organic grapes)
    Regular price: $14.99, Sale price: $11.90, Six-pack price: $10.71
  2. 2006 Sanford Chardonnay (Flower label)
    Regular price: $21.99, Sale price: $15.39, Six-pack price: $13.85
  3. 2006 Steelhead Sauvignon Blanc
    Regular price: $18.99, Sale price: $9.98, Six-pack price: $8.98
  4. Promisquous Red
    Regular price: $16.99, Sale price: $9.98, Six-pack price: $8.98
    So-so. For $9 it's okay.
  5. 2006 Coppola Malbec
    Regular price: $18.49, Sale price: $13.98, Six-pack price: $12.58
  6. 2005 Keltie Brook Merlot
    Regular price: $18.99, Sale price: $6.99, Six-pack price: $6.29

Grand total Regular price: $110.44
Grand total Sale price: $68.22
Price I paid: $61.39 (plus tax)

TOTAL SAVINGS: $49.05 (44%)
Price per Bottle: $10.23

Caveats: I've not had most of these, so I can't yet vouch for their quality… I know the Sanford Chardonnay is good.  I don't normally drink Merlot but that was too good a price to pass up just to see if it's any good.


The 2008 Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc was great. It was light, not too acidic, and (as is my usual test for success) makes me want

to drink/buy more of it. The Promisquous Red and the 2005 Keltie Brook Merlot were undrinkable. The Coppola Malbec was  much like the other Coppola wines (Director's Cut excluded from this description)… decent but nothing to write home about for a fair price. The Steelhead went down smoothly, very fruity and tart, though not overly tart. I'd say the Steelhead is a classic-style reasonably well-balanced Sauvignon Blanc. It's regular price feels steep, but the sale price was a “steel.” The Sanford Chardonnay was good as usual… That's my go-to white wine.