Friday, May 18, 2007

Shop 'Til You Drop

Most everyone has their favorite shopping experience, whether it’s the mall (my sister-in-law), used bookstores (my dad) or wine shops (me).

I love to shop for wine. I know I’m not alone in this affliction, especially among my fellow wine bloggers. I’ve certainly read some interesting posts on wine buying lately.

Farley over at Wine Outlook wrote this about collecting, hunting for wine and the folly of those who would pay someone to stock their wine cellar. I don't see how any “wine lover” could not enjoy shopping for wine or stocking their own cellar.

Some guy named Eric (I think he works for a newspaper), who writes a blog called “The Pour,” has been writing about mixed cases of wine. It’s a pretty good blog, and I like his taste in wine. I even recognize some of the selections in his cases as wines I’ve enjoyed.

He sure does get a lot of comments.

Anyway, I really enjoy prowling wine shops, big-box beverage stores and anywhere else where wine is sold. After ten-plus years of practice and two stints in retail wine sales, I think I’m a pretty savvy wine shopper.

One of my favorite experiences is buying wines on clearance. Grocery stores and other large retailers whose main focus isn’t wine usually need to liquidate stock that doesn’t move. Frequently, the wines that don’t move are things that don’t appeal to the masses, but might appeal to a wine geek like me.

I recently bought several bottles from World Market that were 25% off. As a rule I don’t buy anything there, because their prices are high. I picked up a Bordeaux-style blend and a shiraz/viognier from Australia, and a yummy negroamaro from Italy.

Grocery stores are even more ruthless when they are clearing the shelves. I’ve seen wines piled up in shopping carts at 50% off. Most of it is usually junk, but you never know. A couple years ago, I found a bottle of 1997 Marcelina Cabernet Sauvignon for $11 in a clearance cart. It was, quite possibly, the best $11 I have ever spent.

I spend most of my wine dollars at the same store, but wherever I go, if wine is sold, I’ll make time to browse. Just about any wine junkie has at least one story about discovering an exceptional bottle tucked in the corner of a wine shop or a rare vintage lurking in the corner grocery.

Awhile back I wrote about independent wine shops and what the future holds for them. Whenever I’m out of town, I’m always on the lookout for cool wine shops to explore. Beau over at Basic Juice just posted about one peculiar wine shop he encountered in his travels.

The Internet is rapidly changing the way people shop for wine, and creating some really cool wine-buying experiences, not to mention increasing the availability of wines. However, it can't replicate the experience of actually handling the bottles or having a friendly face to assist you.

It reminds me of how the Net has changed the way we get our news. Like most people, I read lots of news online. But I still get the daily paper, because there’s nothing like pouring a cup of coffee, kicking back in my favorite chair on the porch and getting ink on my fingers.

So what am I doing this weekend? It’s time to buy some wine.

But only after I’ve read the paper.


Joe said...

I am always prowling (ok, stalking) the wine shops, especially on business trips where it is always a new collection. I have had some nice negroamaro as well - Taurino and Tormaresca specifically - nice to see them mentioned in the blogosphere.

John said...

Thanks for the comment, Joe. I'm also a fan of the Taurino.