Wine Shop vs. Grocery Store

Where do you buy your wine? Do you prefer a quint little shop which only supplies you with wine? Or are you the type that prefers to buy your wine with your milk and toilet paper? This is the great debate. Even greater than a presidential debate (and a lot more fun). Everyone has a preference. Neither one is right or wrong, but since this is my blog I am going to let you know my opinion on where to buy wines. 

So, there are those who prefer to buy wines at a chain grocery store – QFC, Safeway, Fred Meyer, etc.  – usually you can find big name wines, cheap prices and if you have a favorite big name wine you can usually find it every time you go. I can see how a grocery store would be appealing, it is really one stop shopping. My issue with a chain grocery store is their lack of diversity. They have contracts with big name brands and are required to sell their wine. Little wineries cannot compete with the big names and thus chain stores won’t stock their shelves with those wines. I guess I am just a supporter for the little guys.

Then you can move on to the speciality grocery stores, the Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Ballard Market, PCC, etc. Their wine choice is more diverse and they generally have more information on their wines. Prices are a bit higher, but they are more open to supporting the smaller vineyards. I do buy wines from these stores often, but not always my favorite.

With both – it is very difficult to find help – even if you ask. Many don’t have staff with wine knowledge. If they do, then I never seem to hit the stores at the right time. I don’t know how many times I have stood in front of the wine section, with a blank look, and no one offered to help. How is a person supposed to know which wine to buy? Do you really want to drop $15 on a bottle you have no idea if you like or not? That is where the specialty wine shops fit in (although, I have recieved help from the wine steward at Ballard Market many times).

Wine shops are daunting- I get that. And with good reason. Many wine shops are intimidating. There a few in Seattle I have walked out of, because they were rude. But, then there are some who listen to your likes, don’t walk away from you if you want a wine under $10, and will remember you and your favorite wines. If you have a local shop that you love to buy your wines at, please let me know!! I have a shop, where everyone knows your name. West Seattle Cellars – prices are competitive (they even have these bins where all the wines are under $10 – genius), their wine clubs are reasonable (12 wines a month for $100 – amazing prices and gives me wines I can tell you about), they offer wine classes (I am taking on in Feb.) and the staff are incredibly helpful. I know they are not the only wine shop that offers such service, but West Seattle Cellars the shop which increased my love of wine.

In the long run, it doesn’t matter where you buy your wine, as long as you follow your taste. Just remember to expand your horizon and check out that local wine shop or specialty store. Not only are you supporting your local economy but you may meet a new friend, find a new favorite wine or just learn something new.

Shop on novices….


One thought on “Wine Shop vs. Grocery Store

  1. I’m not averse to buying in the grocery store. In fact, I bought a couple of bottles yesterday at Frye’s (owned by Kroger…don’t know if you have them in Seattle), and was thinking about this post. Amazingly, they have a pretty incredible selection – if you can get passed the fact two rows over you can get toilet paper and feminine hygiene products. 🙂


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