Where is the best place to buy wine?

This is a question I am asked often. Where is the best place to purchase wine? This is a hard question to answer, since there are so many ways to get your hands on a great bottle of wine. I have my favorites, which I am sure you are sick of hearing me talk about, but it is hard for me to answer that question for anyone else. It depends. Where do you live? How far are you willing to commute for a bottle of wine, how much do you want to spend, are you ok buying wine along with your gas, etc.? The list of questions could go on for hours. So, I figured maybe I should do a little research and compile a list for you.

This is an intriguing topic for me to also talk about, since I was close to purchasing a wine shop around 6 months ago. I wanted to open a shop where my fellow novices were comfortable coming into a non, pretentious store where they wouldn’t get eye rolls for asking where the white zin is (although, there would be no white zin, I would point them into another direction). I was so excited about the possibility of opening a wine shop for people like me in the world – those who want a good bottle of wine, at an inexpensive price – without getting laughed at! Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be at this point in time.

I am sorry to say but this list does discriminate against those living outside Washington. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but I am not sure (besides the obvious grocery stores, Costco’s and BevMo’s) where the best wine shops are in your neck of the woods. I would love it you made comments to let me (and my fellow wine novices) know! For those living in the great state of Washington, below is a list of wine shops I have frequented or heard about through fellow novices.  I want to make sure I lead you in a direction of discovering fine wines. I am in NO WAY paid by or asked to promote these businesses. This list is made up solely on my opinion, which I at least regard highly. If I have missed some special shop (because it is difficult for me to make it to every shop in WA), please let me know. I would love to have a long list overflowing of great wine shops and wine buys.

1.) West Seattle Cellars, West Seattle

www.westseattlecellars.com

Ok, I know you are sick of me always talking about WS cellars, but I cannot help it. Tom and Jan are the most helpful people in the business. They will bend over backwards to get you that special wine. And how can you pass up their $10 and under bins of wines OR their amazing Consumer Wine club where for $100/month you get 12 wines… all personally picked for you. To top all that off, they offer weekly wine tastings (free) and classes (not free, but around $25). I literally drive from my North Seattle home to their shop off California Ave, because they are worth it.

2.) Greenlake Wines/Wine Outlet, Seattle area

www.greenlakewines.com

The Wine Outlet has been in SODO and lower Queen Anne for ages, but they recently opened up Greenlake Wines and Wine Bar. I met up with some girlfriends at GL Wines one night and was pleased with the wine’s by the glass (and flights). They also have some very yummy small plates to accompany the wines. The shop is small and intimate, but when I went back on my mission to find a Spanish wine under $10, they were able to accommodate. Richard, the owner, was incredibly sweet, knowledgable and quick to point out his other shops had a larger selection.

3.) Costco, throughout the good ol USA

Costco is everything that is wrong with America, in my humble opinion. I cannot stand the place. Everything in bulk, bright neon lights burning you,  promoting overeating and overspending. I am not trying to rag on Costco, or those who love it. It has its place in the world. My blog isn’t to complain things I don’t like (that is why I have a husband). However, I do give Costco a little credit, they have a great wine selection. And they do a nice job stocking the shelves with local wines. If you live in an area with no wine shop and need a decent wine, wear your comfy shoes, brave the crowds and check out Costco (make sure you go hungry, they do a good job feeding you with free samples).

4.) Whole Foods, various US locations

www.wholefoods.com

Ok, I know, whole paycheck… but get this? Not with their wines. Holy moly. They have a fantastic wine selection, wonderful help and great prices. I even had an employee offer to help me find a wine, with a screaming toddler. Now, that takes patience (and why I needed that bottle of wine). The only downside I have heard about Whole Foods, from a wine maker over in Eastern WA, is that it is difficult for small, local wine makers to get their wines on the shelves. Beyond that, from a consumers viewpoint, I very much appreciate their selections of wines.

5.) The Grape Choice, Kirkland WA

http://www.thegrapechoice.com/

This shop is more nostalgic for me than anything. I have never purchased a wine from The Grape Choice. My parents frequented their shop and my dad even held a few of his company Christmas parties at The Grape Choice. It is also highly regarded within the community of Kirkland. If you live on the eastside, hop in your Land Rover and cruise on over … you will see why my parents loved the shop so much!

6.) QFC/Fred Meyer, various locations

You need to grab a bottle of wine, while buying your groceries, QFC is probably your best option (WAY better than the wine I have seen at various Safeway’s and Albertson’s). They tend to have a bigger wine section than other supermarkets and try to have a decent local selection. Fred Meyer surprised me with in their wines as well. Very impressive, large wine department!

7.) The Grape Adventure, Kent WA

http://www.thegrapeadventure.com/

If you read my previous blog, which I am sure you all have… I talk about what a great find this is!! If you are in the south sound, check them out. Also a wine bar; with tasty small plates.

8.) Town and Country Markets (Ballard Market/ Greenwood Market/Central Markets), Seattle, Mill Creek, Poulsbo, Shoreline, Bainbridge Island.

http://www.townandcountrymarkets.com/location.html

For a small market, they actually have wine experts to help you! I love this about Town and Country/Central Markets. Wine section is small, but very thorough in selection!

9.) Vino Verite, Capital Hill

www.vinoverite.com

I have not been to this shop, but have heard amazing things from patrons. I plan on making up to Capital Hill to visit, I just need a babysitter so I can take my time to look around (any takers to babysit?).

10.) Cellar 46, Mercer Island

www.cellar46.com

Also a wine bar – very nice atmosphere. Small wine selection, but very, very nice wines. A little pricey, but worth the stop to grab some tapa’s and have a nice glass of vino.

 11.) Wicked Cellars, Everett

http://wickedcellars.com/about_us.html

This is the only wine shop I recommend, but have not shopped at. Same with any novices I know. I saw their ratings on the internet and explored their site. Seems like a non-snooty, helpful wine shop. I am happy to see Everett opening up some fun shops!! Plus, I love the name. Go E-town!

Eastern WA –

Sorry, but you have wineries in your backyards – so I have not included you. You are lucky SOB’s who can frequent your favorite winery any time.. even in snow, since you know how to drive in it. Seriously though, those living East of the mountains, let me know your favorite shops for wine.

I hope you find this list helpful. I know good wine is to be found anywhere (hey, I have found excellent bottles at a gas station), these are just a few places to guide you in your journey for the perfect wine.

Cheers!

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Another Saturday night in

It’s Saturday night and you are staying home because you are broke, cannot find a babysitter, don’t feel like going out or  none of the above. For whatever reason you are in for the night, but have the urge to pop open a bottle of wine. Yet, you are broke and need to find a bottle of decent wine for $10 or under. That, my friends, is where I come in to help you.

It is Saturday night and I am home, due to most of the above. In my need to blog more with interesting wine bits for my readers,  I have decided to help my Saturday night, feeling poor, friends by tasting 4 different wines under $10 (for those needing to stay within their budgets).

The 10 dollar challenge goes as this:

Pick 4 different wines from 4 different locations, all under $10, to see if they are worthy enough to drink. I decided to focus one region – Spain was the choice tonight. I opened all bottles, knowing most of them will be thrown down the sink. I wanted to taste the differences, not to drink tonight. This is all for you my readers!

The Wines:

The good news is most of these wines I found in at least two stores!

#1: 2009 La Aldea : 100% Monastrell- Jumilla region  Trader Joes $7.49

I was able to find a  TJ’s wine expert to help me decide what wine I should choose for my challenge. Many of their Spanish wines were under $10, so I wanted to hear his expert advice on wine. He a promised full bodied, full tannin wine, with a very nice finish. The description of the wine states a ripe wine with blackberries, dark cherries, earth and wild flowers.

The verdict: bland, tart, not bold at all. There was very little flavor. I did not taste a hint of any fruit. This would be a wine to buy when you just want to get drunk. Not a sipping, enjoyable wine at all.

Sorry Trader Joe wine expert, I question your knowledge.

#2: 2009 Coto de Hayas- Garnacha/Syrah  Fred Meyer $8.49

Ok, I am feeling hopeful with this challenge. First of all, I give a lot of credit to Fred Meyer (Kroger) – their wine section impressed me!! I was blown away by the selection of wines, not just Spanish, but all regions. I stood there, in shock and awe, trying to decide on a wine. The negative is that I received no help. So, I blindly chose.

The verdict: Smooth wine, with a berry finish on your tongue. Not a favorite wine by a long shot, but a decent wine for the price. A wine to take to a party. It is different enough to impress your usually non-drinking wine friends!

#3: Don Ramon Red- 75% Grenache, 25% Tempranillo Greenlake Wines $9.00 (also at Fred Meyers)

The help at Greenlake Wines was appreciated. The selection was small, so I had little hope in finding a wine under $10. However, the sales clerk showed me a couple Spanish wines within my budget. He thought this wine would impress me, so I took his advice.

The verdict: Very, very nice medium bodied wine and a great buy. I had a very hard time deciding what this wine tasted like though. The wine left a spicy dance on my tongue with some berry tones – but hard to determine which berries.

 I was only tasting these 4 wines (otherwise I would not be able to write), but this bottle of  wine I could sip and enjoy. It is hard to describe, but a joy to drink.

#4: 2007  Campo Viejo Rioja – Crianza  Safeway $9.99

As I went stopped at my final store, Safeway, I was nervous I wouldn’t find a $10 Spanish wine. I was very happy to find a Rioja within my price range. I love Rioja’s. They have to be one of my favorite wines. So, I was excited to try my find.

The verdict: Undrinkable. I couldn’t even finish my taste. Even foods wouldn’t help this wine (in my opinion). I may try it again tomorrow, just to give it a second chance. Sadly, I was very disappointed. A wine I will steer clear from. Sorry Safeway – you scored the lowest tonight.

 

The final verdict is that I was not 100% sold on 3 of the 4 wines. Number 2 was decent enough to take to a non-wine drinking friends party, but Number 3 was by far the most enjoyable. For the price, it has the most fun potential. You will find it at Trader Joes, Fred Meyers and possibly small wine shops (I purchased it at Greenlake wines), which makes obtaining this wine a breeze.

Your next Saturday night in and you want to try something different, pick up a Don Ramon, you will be happy with your investment.

Enjoy your wine night in!