10/08/08 – your favorite supermarket wine

By Jesse on October 7, 2008


“Try to avoid buying your wine at a supermarket” currently holds a place as the third-most frequently mentioned phrase in my weekly meeting announcements (trailing only “don’t forget to chill your whites” and “if you don’t bring tasting notes, you’re kicked off the mailing list”). However, I’ve realized I may be doing our members a disservice by effectively limiting their exposure to supermarket bottles: wines that tend to be easily accessible, highly recognizable, and often on sale. Sometimes, for any number of reasons, we’re forced to turn to our local Ralphs or Vons for wine purchases.  Maybe we’re rushing to a party, and we need to grab something in a hurry… maybe it’s 11pm, and our favorite wine shop is long since closed… or maybe we’re just browsing, and find ourselves seduced by that big gaudy wine display at the front of the store (next to the potted plants and Halloween candy).

This week, in an effort to find some dependable go-to supermarket winners, we’ll be tasting your favorite bottle from your local Ralphs / Albertsons / Pavillions / etc. I suppose that Trader Joe’s, Gelson’s and Whole Foods are also acceptable sources, but their disadvantage is their relative lack of ubiquity in comparison to the big boys.  The idea of this tasting is that once we’re through, you should be able to pull off of any freeway exit in Los Angeles County and find a bottle you know you like within a half mile. In that spirit, try to stick to the traditional supermarkets, rather than the premium or health-food retailers.

We’ve tried a few bottles in recent months that can be found at supermarkets — including the Coppola series and some random southern bottles — but your options certainly don’t end there.  Please note: your charge is to bring your favorite supermarket bottle, not just any supermarket bottle. The reason that we discourage people from bringing them to weekly tastings is that so many of them just aren’t very interesting. Therefore, please bring a supermarket bottle that you’ve tried and enjoyed, not just any random bottle that catches your eye. (“But Jesse, I’ve never tasted a single supermarket wine that I enjoyed.” Well then, I guess you’re just bringing ten dollars this week, huh?) Cost is not a factor — we want to taste all price-points. If you choose to bring a super cheap one, feel free to bring two! The more bottles, the merrier we’ll all be.

This week’s meeting will take place at Noah and Sasha’s place in Santa Monica. The RSVP system functions like this: if you want in, you send me an e-mail the same day you received this one. Spots are assigned based on a complex algorithm which gives priority to long-term members but also reserves seats at each and every meeting for new people. If you’re denied entry due to a meeting exceeding capacity, don’t worry — you’ll be at the top of the list the next week. We try to keep everyone satisfied, and we think we do a pretty good job.

Once you’ve received your confirmation e-mail, head to your local purveyor of foodstuffs and grab a familiar bottle of vino that you know you like — or just pocket a $10 bill. We’ll see you on Wednesday night at 9:00.