So since we are on the topic of food and wine, here's a little holiday shopping tip for you. I was reminded of this earlier this week while reading Food and Wine magazines description of good "supermarket" wines. So before people start to wonder if I have a problem (as in "how much wine do you drink each week exactly"), let me say that I have really gotten into wine since I moved to Seattle. There's a real wine culture here, much like people perceive us having a "coffee culture". Part of it is certainly the proximity to lots of wineries (if I had to estimate, I'd say I live within 5 miles of about 10-20 of them). Also, local Pacific Northwest food goes great with wine. I compare this to my previous life in Chicago where I was enjoying a nice cold beer with my pizza.
Sine I have moved here (mostly in the last year even), I have taken the time to get to know wines, develop some favorites, buy a wine refrigerator and really get into it enough to read about it. I am by no means a wine snob, but I have been heard saying "step away from the three buck chuck". I found that once I started to explore the difference between a basic merlot and a spicy Zinfandel, it was hard not to get a little more selective. My wine budget has gone up but that has more to do with the quality of the wine than the quantity.
Last week, our team had our holiday get-together at my house. We wanted it to be casual, comfortable, fun and within budget (we can talk about how cheap I am later...it's a good kind of cheap, I promise). I threw together some antipasti, we ordered some pizza and we blind tasted 5 Zinfandels. Oh yeah, and we danced in my living room...gotta love the crazy team I'm a part of. I don't know that I ever did any kind of wine tasting before I moved here (except when I lived in Chicago and visited here). You just kind of get into the wine thing. Incidentally, you also get into the teeth bleaching thing too ; )
Anyway back to my tip. Food and Wine Magazine is right about the abundance of good wine at grocery stores, especially here. At my QFC (in Bella Botega, for any locals), they have a wine expert on staff and she's great. Their selection is pretty extensive and includes lots of wines from Italy, Australia, South Africa and Spain as well as the regulars. So reading about it, and the fact that I wanted to pick up a couple of bottles of Sauvignon Blanc to go with the turkey, I headed off to QFC for an expedition. Did you know that you get a case discount at QFC like you would at a wine specialty store? And did you know that you can mix the case any way you want? It doesn't all have to be the same thing. So about once or twice a year, I'll stock up at the QFC. What I do is regularly patrol the wine aisles keeping a watch for when some of my favorite bottles go on sale. When I notice that, it's a perfect time to do a little stocking up. Not only do I get the sale price, but I get an additional ten percent off. For example (get this), today, I bought a full case of wine including one of my newer favorites, Coppola Diamond Label Zinfandel (the winner from our wine tasting party). The bottle was originally $13.99 (a dollar less than you find it at Cost Plus...I'm always about comparing the prices), then with my QFC card, they took $3 off. Then I got ten percent off on top of that. So I got a $15 bottle of wine for ten dollars. I'm sorry, what better combination than cost savings and yummy wine? Oh and today? I saved $53.79 on the case. Crazy. Let's just say that my wine refrigerator is full.
Another good thing about this little ritual is that it encourages me to try some new wines. I typically drink wines that stand up well on their own (mostly spicy reds or reds with lots of black fruit, anise or soy...also some non-oaky Chardonnay). Now I am starting to experiment with pairing, hence the Sauvignon Blanc which I usually find too light and fruity (but a good balance to poultry). So this helps me expand my knowledge of wines. I think the next step is to start and keep a wine journal so I remember what I like (I doubt I'd be up for steaming labels off..too much work). Next up, I think I might explore Spanish wines since I really like a nice glass of Rioja.
Anyway, those of you who know me personally, know that I get a little excited about getting a good deal (it's kind of my one hidden talent), so I wanted to share.