It should be obvious by now that we love, love, LOVE visiting wineries and wine tasting. So you can imagine our glee when the supermarkets in our area started offering wine tasting! Many progressive supermarket chains across the country are adding wine tasting to their in-store experience, and Safeway is bringing that joy to our fruits and veggies quests.
The tasting experience varies quite a bit, even between stores in a given chain. One Livermore Safeway, for example, has an spacious, permanent wine tasting area, surrounded by wines for sale, delineated by a velvet rope. A Pleasanton Safeway has a temporary three foot square area marked off by those nylon strap barriers made popular(?) by the TSA at the airport. A bit of a picnic vibe is enforced, as the wine is tasted in 6 oz. disposable plastic glasses. Oh, and there is the occasional overhead announcement, “Clean-up on isle three” to break the mood. As winemakers know, ambiance does matter, so plan your grocery shopping accordingly.
At the Safeway stores we’ve visited, the tastings are hosted by wine distributor personnel. This usually means that you can taste a number of wineries, but not sample the full breadth of a single winery’s wine list. In every tasting that we’ve experienced, the distributor’s representative has been friendly, inviting and knowledgeable about the wines being tasted.
This is not to be confused with a relaxing afternoon of wine tasting. The ambiance is lacking, the variety is limited and the glassware is horrid. On the other hand, after you’ve completed your search for everything on your shopping list (where is the basil, anyway?) it is certainly nice to wrap up your visit with a nice sip of wine!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?