Trader Joe’s is a supermarket/limited liquor store specializing in wines that comes out of California. Recently, two stores were built in the suburbs of Minneapolis, MN. Their specialties include inexpensive organic products and a lot of imported foods such as cheeses. They do not have everything, but if you want to get some exceptional value when it comes to a few really good products, it is a store not to be missed.
Their wine selection is decent and the staff is very versed on the product and making suggestions. A notorious hit is the “2 buck Chuck” or formally known as the Charles Shaw red wines such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. For two dollars, you will have a very decent wine which has even won prestigious awards! Recently it was the Chardonnay that was lauded by critics and sure enough on my last trip there, not a bottle was to be found. It is a common sight to see customers with carts filled with wine. They know and now you know too what a gold mine awaits for the wine enthusiast.
Apart from Trader Joe’s, a distant second would be the mega food warehouse Costco. Their selection is very limited, but then they have specials, you can be sure it will be dirt cheap and very good. If you are already there buying food for a party, definitely stop by and see what they have. However, I wouldn’t make a special trip just for the liquor store.
As a general rule, keep an eye out for sales at your local liquor store. Oftentimes, there are annual or bi-annual wine sales, where buying in bulk has financial benefits. Upscale wine shops rarely have sales and you pay for their expertise and knowledge of the product. Do some research before asking questions. If you are not sure of what you are looking for, you may end up spending too much. Most wine drinkers are not necessarily connoisseurs, so the difference between a ten dollar bottle and a fifty dollar bottle may not even be appreciated. If giving wine for a gift, by no means be cheap, but realize there are many very good wines at affordable prices.