As the year is about be snubbed out like a dinner party candle, at the end of the evening, I thought it would be a great time to do a bit of a refresh on local San Diego Costco wine scene. The last article I wrote on this iconic stack-it-deep, sell it cheap big-box store has become thee most viewed post that I've ever written. So I wanted to add a few more observations, which I hope will enhance your next wine shopping experience to this vino slinging phenom.
I know there's Costco Wine Blog [supposedly not affiliated], chock full of many reviews of the wines they carry. There is also a Costco Connection with a focus on wine, but it really does not give tips to shoppers or as Costco employees like to refer to you as "members" on the practical everyday issues facing their members. Because I often find myself wandering down the aisles of many local San Diego Costco's looking for good vino deals and I also hand-sell wine for various labels, I wanted to bring everyone up to speed on a few "new" observations that I've made, which you may find helpful.
• If you are a point shopper; look for older vintages that have been "reviewed" [with a high-score] under the pile of the new vintage which has been stacked on top of it. Many of their stores are not conscience [or they are just too busy] of rotating older vintages to the top of the box, as they rush just to keep boxes full [advantage to the savvy shopper].
• If you see an asterisk on the on their price signs, it usually means that item is just temporary [but how temporary remains to be seen]. So if the bottle of vino you really like, which is marked as such, you may just want to stock up before it's gone.
• Most of you reading this have a "smart-phone" but I don't see you using them too often when you're curious about ratings on wine you're considering. So go ahead whip it out, scan the bar-code or just Google it, you are more likely than not to find it has been reviewed on a blog or even one of the discussion boards like Cellar Tracker.
• Don’t be afraid to step outside of the everyday staples you’ve become use to. Yes, they may be your favorite tried and true style of wine, but nothing ventured nothing gained. For crying out loud, it just a bottle of wine and not your next living-room set, so lean into it. Think about it for a moment, often what you'll find is that your old stand-by is a wine made in a formulaic style, one that will always be available. So if I were you I'd ask one of the friendly Costco Merchandisers to make a recommendation on something new or check back here often for tips on finding a new wine to try. File this recommendation under something new, take for example the Rosso Montalcino, which can be found in many of their stores. It's a great alternative for Pinot Noir drinkers, who love light bodied, fruit driven wines, which will pair easily with many styles and types of food [advantage to the adventurous shopper].
• Looking for older California Napa Cab’s? As suggested in a recent Wall Street Journal article by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, “older Cabernet, with tastes that have melded and tannins that have softened” which makes these wines a great pairing partner with many entrees. I stand witness to that fact, having uncorked many older wines this year, I found that many of rough profiles of Cabernet had really mellowed, giving way to softer tannins, subtle fruit, which led to more pliable food pairing opportunities. I keep seeing older Cabernet Sauvignon showing up in the local Costco stores here in San Diego, for example the Narsai David 2004 Cuvée Venus, selling for half the SRP, quite a steal. Give it a swirl!
• This last point is for the folks who make the buying decisions at Costco, I know you probably don’t want or need my advice. But honestly your customers are clamoring for a sweet red wine [besides the Six Grapes port]. I would recommend carrying the Lambrusco as one of the “stales” of the wine department aisles and not just the large format Riunite that I’ve seen pedaled in some stores. Hey don’t laugh, remember it was Eric Asimov who said, “Not So Fast: Don’t Dismiss Lambruscos”. It’s not for everyone, but a large percentage of Costco members are earnestly looking for a replacement to the Stella Rosa.