Saturday, August 19, 2023

Wine for Under $5 a Bottle?

Two-Buck-Chuck is dead.  Long live the Walmart Fiver!

We were at Walmart a few months ago and they had this "Winemaker's Selection" sparkling wine (Cava) for $4.62 (an odd number).  Intrigued, I bought a bottle, as well as a bottle of their Chardonnay for the same price.

I went back the next day and bought every bottle.

It isn't hard to find, just look for the "hole" in the display where bottles used to be.  Apparently, I am not the only one to discover this, and like Walmart Woven-Wheat crackers, they disappear the moment they hit the shelves - and are not restocked for weeks!

The Cava is not quite as good as Juame Serra Cristalino, which has now edged up in price from $5.99 to $8.99 thanks to me promoting it online, I guess.  I should keep silent about the Winemaker's Select!  The Walmart Cava is a little sweeter than Cristalino, and I wonder if it is artificially carbonated.  But it is a serviceable sparkling wine, and sparkling wines should be consumed regularly - they are not just for weddings, New Year's Eve, and launching ships.  And at $4.62 a bottle, well, you can afford to drink Cava every day.

Of course, the price has now risen to $4.99 a bottle and I suspect it will go higher.  Walmart used to have their "Oak Leaf" line of wines, and they were competitive in price with Trader Joe's Two-Buck-Chuck. But sadly, they were not nearly as good. The Chardonnay would make your jaw hurt after you drank it - too many sulfites or something, I guess.  Two-Buck-Chuck itself went from two to three to four dollars, and also suffered from jaw ache.   The four-buck "organic" version (with a glass stopper!) was a marked improvement, but sadly, in their infinite wisdom, Trader Joe's decided to drop the line.  Quite frankly, I fail to see the appeal of Trader Joe's anymore - they sell a lot of packaged foods for a lot of money, but in terms of groceries, it is not a daily "go-to" place, other than to be seen there, which seems to be the point, for a lot of shoppers.

No jaw ache with Winemaker's Selection!

So Walmart wins the day, although like with Woven-Wheat Crackers (displaced by those bastards at Triscuits) they probably will drop the ball on this in favor of selling shelf space to Bronco winery.  Sadly, Walmart's prices on other wines are always a dollar or two higher than our local liquor store - so why bother? With "Winemaker's Selection" however, they have a unique product and a captive audience.

My only complaint - if it is one at all - is that while they use a real cork and cage on the Cava (and I am a closure agnostic - a bottle-cap would suffice for me!) the cork is really, really long and hard to remove sometimes.  I have had to resort to using pliers in some cases to twist the cork off!  Like I said, it is not really a complaint, that they made the cork too good,  No doubt this insures the wine stays carbonated and doesn't get "corked" over time. And it beats the crap out more expensive but lesser sparkling wines with plastic corks (looking at you, Great Western or Korbel!).

Anyway, in a world spinning out of control, with prices going through the ceiling, at least you can still buy a nice bottle of table wine for under $5, if just barely.

While supplies last!