Aldi wine: This isn’t the way to win friends and influence sales

aldi wineWhy can’t Aldi wine in the U.S. be as cheap and as interesting as it is in Europe?

Aldi, the discount grocery store chain that has wowed Europeans with its quality cheap wine, seemed ready to do the same thing in the U.S. this year. It was facing increased competition in wine from Walmart, Target, and Kroger, as well as the arrival of its European arch-rival Lidl to the U.S.

But the result so far? What a disappointment.

That’s if my weekly ad is any indication (pictured at right), which I think it is. It’s the first time I’ve seen Aldi devote one-quarter of its four-page circular to wine. But there is little there anyone would be interested in buying:

• Just one European wine, an Italian white that looks to be a knockoff of Costco’s private label pinot grigio.

• An 85-point California pinot noir for $13. Someone needs to tell the Aldi marketing types, first, that 85 points is about a special as a new shoelace, and second, that I can buy a dozen $10 grocery store pinot noirs that get more than 85 points. And we all know how I feel about scores.

• A $10 New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Why do I need to buy a $10 New Zealand sauvignon blanc at Aldi? I can do that at Kroger.

The point of this is that Aldi delivers so much more in Europe. I had high hopes we would see that here when Aldi arrived, and I have bought great cheap wine at Aldi – the short-lived, but incredible Vina Decana and its replacement, the always dependable $5 Vina Fuerte. But the rest? Just more private label versions of the same old supermarket plonk that I don’t buy at the supermarket. And Winking Owl. Lots and lots and lots of Winking Owl.

Why is the chain settling for so little here? Has it bought into the grocery store mindset that U.S. consumers will drink whatever is put in front of them as long as it has a score and a pretty label? Is it because it doesn’t see wine as important to sales in the U.S. as wine is in Europe? Or is it just not doing a good job?

Regardless, I want more. I want the same $6, $8, and $10 wines their European customers get. Is that asking too much from what is supposed to be one of the world’s great discount grocers?

2 thoughts on “Aldi wine: This isn’t the way to win friends and influence sales

  • By Tony Caffrey -

    I agree, Aldi have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

    I recently visited a Lidl store in VA. On the plus side, the “selection” is far broader (and much better merchandized) than Aldi, but less than a “regular” grocery store. Prices are as low as $3.99, but are mostly in the $8 -$15 range with some higher.

    On the downside most imported wines come from just a few importers, Riverside Imports in Brooklyn, which according to 2016 trade mark filings seems to be a subsidiary of Nestor Imports, a Greek wine importer, Hudson Wine brokers in LA, and Fat Barrel in Oregon. Concentration on just a few suppliers is often a sign of private label hegemony. And they got a Master Somm to to that.

    There was a small smattering of identifiable brands, maybe ten or so, out of 200 selections.

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      That’s pretty much the Lidl approach in Europe, so we need to see how long they stay with it here and if they can make it work.

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