Thursday, February 7, 2008

Grocery Outlet

The Grocery Outlet

James is this guy that I work with who's pretty darn wine knowledgeable, and has good taste in wines. His family is involved in the wine industry in the Finger Lakes AVA and he grew up with it.

We have these semi-monthly wine tastings at work where everyone brings something in and we all taste. Quite fun. If you ask James where he makes his acquisitions, they are usually at some winery function or other, usually when the winemaker is disposing of excess library wines. The other big place James makes acquisitions at is The Grocery Outlet.

Just what is the Grocery Outlet? It's a store that acquires it's inventory from defunct businesses or product lines and then sells them off cheap. Usually it's associated with almost past the sell by caned goods, but they also acquire quite a bit of wine. And sell it off for about $2.99 a bottle. Now, they never have consistent inventory, and you have no idea how the wines have been stored. So James usually shows up, drops a $20 and goes home with half a mixed case, pops them all open, tastes them, and then returns to buy a case or 2 of the ones he liked.

I decided that it was high time I popped in to the Grocery Outlet myself and give it a try, so I loaded my friend Doug into the SUV and we headed off to Berkeley at lunch to check the place out.

They had about the same size selection that you would find at Nob Hill or Albertsons. Not too many labels that I had seen before (at least that I would drink; Ernest & Julio were present in the selection as was Joe Franzia) were present, although there was one wine from Jessie's Grove.

I bought 7 wines for $19.78. None of which I had ever tried before, and only 1 of which I had even heard of (The afore mentioned Jessie's Grove). I have so far opened 3 of them, and found all 3 to be very good, and I'm heading back tomorrow to buy more. At less than $3 a bottle you can afford to experiment (like the 2 bottles of Algerian Shiraz I picked up on a whim)

If you consider the $20.00 a "Tasting fee" then you won't mind throwing out (or making sauce out of) all 7 bottles then it's worth shopping there on the chance that even one of the wines turns out to be a keeper, as you can load up on a case for the price of a single bottle of Rosenblum.

Give it a try.

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