What’s bigger than SEC football in Tennessee? Right now, it’s the addition of wine in grocery stores, big box retail and club stores. For those of you not living in the Volunteer State, wine hit grocery shelves for the first time in history one week ago on July 8, 2016. “It was like prohibition had been lifted,” said one Kroger employee. One week in, I decided to do a little comparison shopping at my neighborhood Kroger and Publix. Read on to see what I found.
First up, Kroger. The North Lake location in Hermitage has dedicated three aisles specifically for vino, and they can’t keep it on the shelves. While pursuing the selection, I was greeted by an employee, and asked if I had any questions. Why yes, yes I did. Full disclosure, I am a sucker for a fun label. And there were plenty I have never seen lining the shelves. My Kroger friend let me know that they carry 100 specific brands that are Kroger exclusive, and pointed out seasonal customer favorites. A strong selling Chardonnay (Meridian) retails for 16.99 in stores, and friends, it’s on sale for $3.99. I’ve got a bottle chilling at home to try. They also have their own version of a competitor’s $2 wine, Bay Bridge. My wine guide informed me that they went through 30 cases in two days. That’s not the only thing they can’t keep in stock. Barefoot’s 750mL Moscato was stocked that morning, and by 5:15 pm, they were sold out. As I made my personal selections, I couldn’t help but notice all the empty shelf space. While most wines are Kroger exclusives, you’ll find familiar brands like Yellow Tail and Robert Mondavi as well as one of my favorites, a trusty Bota Box.
I made the drive to Publix next. I had high hopes, since this is my weekly stop for groceries. While Publix was stocked with staple brands (Yellow Tail, Chateau St. Michelle, Coppola, Bota), I felt a little let down after the candy store I found myself in while shopping in Kroger. One thing that Publix did have over Kroger was a chilled chest. There were also no employees lingering in the 4-aisle section, which after my Kroger conversation, was a slight let down.
All in all, I am beyond thrilled that I can buy wine outside of a liquor store. For this first initial pass, I’m going to give Kroger the win. I can pick up Yellow Tail or Apothic if I want something familiar, or I can branch out and explore one of their exclusives. Publix, however, is going to be a convenience trip. While I might go out of my way to shop for wine at Kroger, Publix will be that bottle of Cab I decide will go well with the steak I picked up for dinner.
Until next time, remember when the question is wine, the answer is Wine Not?