Why You Should Probably Steer Clear Of The Wine Bargain Table At Grocery Stores

The wine aisle at the grocery store is frequented by many shoppers, whether shopping for a dinner party or a bottle all to themselves. Statista reports that just under 57% of shoppers aged 18 to 29 buy wine at the grocery store, with 30 to 49-year-olds buying the most at a rate of just over 60%. While your local grocery store may not carry the refined wines you'd find at a winery or liquor store, there are certainly some great finds in the wine aisle.

One reason a lot of people buy their wine at the grocery store is because of the more affordable options, with stores like Trader Joe's or Aldi becoming a haven for cheap wine enthusiasts. You may even be tempted to check out clearance or bargain aisles or tables for their heavily discounted wines, with seemingly decadent, pricey wines marked down to $10 or less. However, you may want to take a moment and consider the implications of these seemingly too-good-to-be-true deals.

You get what you pay for

The bargain table or clearance aisle at grocery stores is a great place to find a host of items at a heavily reduced price. You may find a fresh baked item for more than half off as its sell-by date approaches, snacks or pantry staples nearing their expiration dates, or a multitude of discounted, useful sundry items.

There are plenty of reasons a store may reallocate its inventory to the clearance section. It may be as simple as a seasonal item no longer being relevant, or on the flip side, a holiday is coming up that makes the item more popular, per Allrecipes.

However, what's more likely is that the product is somehow defective or undesirable. For wine, this could mean a variety of things. The most obvious is that the wine just isn't good, and isn't selling well, so the grocery store put it on the bargain table, The Takeout explains. While many people pay top dollar for vintage, aged wines, your run-of-the-mill store wine isn't going to be shelf stable for that long, warns Vino Vest. Make sure to check the expiration date, the seal, and look up reviews on the wine. With that in mind, you're probably better off looking for an inexpensive wine in the regular wine aisle.

Finding good budget wines

Just because bargain bin wines should be avoided doesn't mean you can't find a good, cheap bottle of wine at the grocery store. You may not be getting a world-class bottle, but there are certainly good, affordable wines out there — if you know how and where to look for them.

One tip VinePair recommends is to go down the wine aisle with a specific region in mind. That is, do your research in advance, and know which ones to look for and avoid. Smaller vine regions will likely produce delicious, legitimate wines for much less than highly coveted areas like Napa or Bordeaux. 

Another quick trick is to look for dupe grapes, or grapes with similar flavor profiles, but without the popularity and associated cost, per Better Humans. For example, the site recommends swapping Pinot Noir for Gamay or Trollinger. Finally, don't limit yourself to what critics deem good or bad — let yourself explore a variety of budget, cheap wines, using your own judgment to make your own determination.