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The Wine Find: Trader Joe’s has the Muscle to Bargain for Wines—and It Doesn’t Stop with Charles Shaw!

Posted By Karen Young On December 17, 2012 @ 11:40 pm In Eat,Featured,Food,Grocery Markets,Lifestyle,Markets,My Daily Find,Other,Shop,spotlight | No Comments

BY BARBARA BARRIELLE

At $9.99 for a Central Coast Pinot you cannot go wrong.

Face it.  It is hard to beat the Trader Joe’s  formula.  Easy-to-navigate smallish stores with rather delectable offerings (sea salt and caramel, holiday peppermint and chocolate every which way,  quick party appetizers, a tasting counter, for starters) as well as everyday staples at decent prices.

Okay, the parking sucks no matter which TJ’s you visit,  forcing shopping at odd hours in various states of dress and undress (yes, I’ve gone in pajamas), but then, you don’t really have to dress for TJ’s!  It’s come as you are— and always be sure check out what others are buying because that’s how you find out about the good stuff.

The same applies to wine.  Look what people are buying for celebratory purposes or to pair with a dinner offering.  Ask the guys in the wine area and check out what they are featuring.  Most times serious negotiations by the wine buyers result in amazing values and those take center stage. And, don’t ‘poo-poo’ the Trader Joe’s private label.  Once, when tasting in Santa Maria Valley, I was chatting with a winemaker who had just sold tons of juice (wine ready for final blending before bottling) to Trader Joe’s the day before and, thereby, he was relieved of financial pressures so he could concentrate on making his unique, single vineyard wines knowing he had cash flow from selling the lesser – but still good – grapes from other vineyards.  And TJ’s pays in 14 days!  Many winemakers will wait months to see any return through distribution channels, if at all.  That’s why, when possible, selling at the winery or direct is magic!

Don’t ‘poo-poo’ the Trader Joe’s private label.

Right now,  Trader Joe’s is featuring Caretaker Pinot Noir and they must have a ton of inventory because you can’t miss it.  It is a very ‘berry-licious’ Pinot Noir with a lot of fruit in the nose and palate — and a nice cherry finish.  It will go with anything, especially a little salmon or leftover turkey.  At $9.99 for a Central Coast Pinot you cannot go wrong.  Also good in the Pinot Noir category is the Fadeaway Pinot Noir from luscious Santa Maria Valley — and at $8.99, it’s a steal. While we are in the Rhone and Burgundy aisle, I have to mention that in a recent Syrah tasting among a wine group that meets monthly (and actually are connoisseurs about the good stuff), the Trader Joe’s  “Coastal” Syrah from the Central Coast performed very well.  I brought it and smirked when one winemaker said “if this is less than $20, it’s a good buy.”  Yep, at $3.99, I think we can say it’s a bit more than a “good” buy!

For more info, go to the Trader Joe’s website.

Barbara Barrielle is a wine, food and travel lover since she was a small child trying to break out of the meat and potatoes cycle that was small town Ohio.  Now, in the land of plenty she owns a home and vineyard in the wine country and works in LA doing PR for luxury brands and travel while acting and producing when she can (get hired!).  Her daughter, Charlotte, 15, also an actor and frequent dining and travel companion, is in tenth grade at Campbell Hall where she also loves to write.

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