Wal-Mart’s $3 wine

Bottle ImageIt’s a great value, actually.

The Oak Leaf label, produced by The Wine Group, is the retailing giant’s house brand. As noted a couple of weeks ago, it has scored quite a few successes in respected wine competitions. The Wine Curmudgeon was skeptical, of course — not only because that is his nature, but because he is skeptical of all things Wal-Mart.

But I tasted the chardonnay and the merlot, and each were much better made than most wines at that price, including Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck. I brought in several people to help me evaluate, and we agreed that these California wines tasted like they cost $10 or even $15. The chardonnay was not over-oaked, as is often the case with cheap wine, and had real chardonnay green apple flavor. The merlot, which is usually cloyingly fruity at this price, had some backbone and the fruitiness had been kept down to a reasonable level.

Will the wine be as good a value next year? That’s one key question, since wine quality is a function of grape quality. If the producer can’t find comparable quality, then it will buy crummier grapes to keep the wine at $3. And the wine won’t be as good.

The other question revolves around Wal-Mart and how serious the chain is about selling this quality of wine at this price. I’m guessing it’s a loss leader for the chain, something to bring in shoppers and to compete against Trader Joe’s and Costco, which is well-known for its wine selection and good prices. If Wal-Mart changes direction, the price could go up or the wine could disappear entirely.

5 thoughts on “Wal-Mart’s $3 wine

  • By JP -

    Walmart will end up corrupting the entire wine business in the USA by dictating quality levels to drive down prices.
    this is bad news for wine

  • By Jeff Siegel -

    I’m no great fan of Wal-Mart, but I don’t think it can control the wine business the way it controls so many other kinds of retailing. For one thing, the business is too diverse, with too many brands and too many retailers for Wal-Mart to do what it did elsewhere.
    There are people who will never shop at Wal-Mart for wine, there are wine brands that will never be in Wal-Mart, and there are retailers that will never lose a customer to Wal-Mart.
    I’m the perfect example. I like this wine, but it’s not worth the trouble of going to Wal-Mart to buy it.

  • By badvegan the necro -

    Wal mart wine is awesome. I absolutely love the shiraz which is made in a very new world style perfect for the most common american wine drinker. It has become a favorite of late to make sangria with what with Spanish Rojo prices soaring.

  • By gAIL BELLO -

    can I get oak leaf wine in the waLMART ON lONG ISLAND

  • By Jeff Siegel -

    The Oak Leaf wine should be in all Walmart’s that sell wine, Gail, as well as the grocery stores.

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