The Wandering Wino Blog

Multiple Wine Glasses

When visiting the local grocery store, Trader Joes, or COSTCO to shop for wine, I see many people staring into an abyss of wine. I can see the struggle in some of their eyes of not knowing what they should purchase. Most people simply do not want to gamble their money on plonk wine. Research statistics indicate the vast majority select their purchases on price point being the number one contributor.  

Of course there are many different circumstances someone might want a bottle, but at the end of the day, everyone wants something that tastes palatable or better for a reasonable price.

There have been many times over the years I have gambled on an unknown wine that paid off like a roulette wheel.

What's the trick? It is not overly complicated and helps to have a little wine background, but not required to be a winner that can rack in the chips. Understanding which wines are grown best, in which regions is the biggest component of how to play a hand in the game of gambling on wine.

Russian River Valley Chardonnay 

So for instance it is not advised to buy Chardonnay which is suited for cool climate in the heat of Temecula CA near the Mexican border.

Below is a breakdown of the percentage of a wines popularity bases upon sales, with a suggested region to find that type of wine. 


US wine popularity by sales market share:

Santa Maria Valley ABC Chardonnay

Chardonnay 13% -

        Russian River Valley/Sonoma Coast/Sta Rita Hills/Santa                                   Maria Valley/Arroyo Grande

Goose Ridge Cabernet

Cabernet Sauvignon 12% - 

           Napa Valley/Alexander Valley/Paso Robles/Happy Canyon of                           Santa Barbara/Washington

Merlot 9%          WA

Pinot Gris 8%    OR

Cornerstone Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir 7% - 

Sta Rita Hills/Santa Maria Valley/Russian River Valley/Carneros/Sonoma Coast/Willamette Valley

These are not the end all be all, but simply a good place to start. Getting a little wine geeky here but there are some vineyards that are consistent winners too. For instance anything from Bien Nacido Vineyards, Solomon Hills, Kalon, or Larner are going to give the consumer the house advantage in getting a good bottle.

Another key point of information are the private label wines. These are things like the "Trader Joes Reserve" wines and the COSTCO Kirkland wines. These companies do not make wine, they simply make a deal and get their label placement. In many instances, these labels have some of the key regions dialed in for the consumer to save. I recently bought a $12.00 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir from Trader Joes. It tasted like a $25+ bottle. That is how to win this game. Dive in and get ready to play!  


  • Jim
    Posted Saturday 23 February 2013 15:40
    Great segment on your show today, I will look for WA Merlot and Chardonnay today at Trader Joes as well as Pinot Noir from Russian River, Thanks,

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