MERCED — I blew it. I knew it when I left the store. I should have bought more. Grocery Outlet had Les Deux Rives Corbieres Rouge, a country red wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon region in France. I love this wine. I usually pay around $11 and Grocery Outlet had it for $6. I bought only three bottles. Dumb move. Two weeks later, I went back to buy more and it was gone.
News travels fast among wine buyers looking for a 40 percent to 60 percent discount on wine. How does Grocery Outlet find wines to sell at these bargain prices?
Grocery Outlet buys overstocks direct from wineries, importers or distributors. In other words, if a winery is releasing a 2011 chardonnay and its warehouse still has unsold cases of the 2010 vintage, Grocery Outlet steps in. Buyers taste the wine, make an offer and then place the wine in their 185 stores. Grocery Outlet also buys wine when the winery changes labels, has new owners or has declared bankruptcy. Last year, EOS Winery in Paso Robles sold, and Grocery Outlet purchased its inventory. Recently, one of my favorite Sonoma County zinfandel producers, Sausal Winery, was purchased by Silver Oak. Grocery Outlet is now selling Sausal wines at bargain prices.
On a quick trip to Monterey, I asked the editor/navigator if she would mind stopping by the new Grocery Outlet in Seaside. I wanted to see if they had any Les Deux Rives Rouge. She agreed. Unfortunately, they had zero. Nada. Nothing. I consoled myself by buying a Sasual zinfandel and a Napa red blend from a winery called Jake Ryan Cellars. We tasted the wines that evening. The Jake Ryan red blend was amazing, especially at a price of $4.99. The editor said we should have bought more. I agreed. The next day I went back to Grocery Outlet and all of the Jake Ryan was gone. A store clerk told me a man came in when the store opened and bought it all. When we got home, I checked out the winery's website. The red blend listed for $28. Ouch.
I went back to the Merced store, looking for Jake Ryan. I struck out again. The adage "You snooze, you lose" really holds true when you treasure hunt for wine at Grocery Outlet. But on a bright note, here are three wines at the Merced Grocery Outlet I think are good buys: the 2009 Mercer Columbia Valley Sauvignon Blanc for $5; the 2009 Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo/Malbec or Tempranillo/Merlot from Spain, $4; and the 2010 P.K.N.T. Carmenere from Chile, $5. Each is 750 milliliters. One wine I think the local Grocery Outlet should order is the 2008 Three Rivers Winery Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($10). I bought only one bottle (another dumb move) at the Seaside Grocery Outlet, brought it home and paired it with slow-cooked leg of lamb. Oh, yes, heaven. This Washington cabernet sauvignon scored 89 and 88 from the top two wine magazines. It is a tremendous buy for $10. If you can, make sure you buy multiple bottles.
The next time I go treasure hunting for wine at Grocery Outlet, I will definitely take a corkscrew, taste it right then and there and decide if it is case-worthy. If it is, I know I won't have to drive to Monterey and back looking for a Jake Ryan or a Three Rivers Cabernet Sauvignon. If only I could just find some more Les Deux Rives Corbieres Rouge. Cheers!
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Find me on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.