A few weeks ago I was on a mission for a killer bottle of bubbles. It’s not often I give myself the excuse to spring for the good stuff but I was shopping for a celebratory champagne in honor of our first wedding anniversary. I’ve had champagne before but never anything outside of what you can buy at your local grocery store and was assuming I would need to up my price point to make it happen. Man, was I wrong. I actually ended up spending far less than I would have buying something easy like Veuve in the grocery store and had the best glass of bubbles I have ever had.
The secret? Knowing where to shop. In San Francisco that means a trip to K&L Wines to chat it up with their impressively educated and in-the-know staff. These kind people happen to be the ones spending big chunks of time in the regions they are buying for. They know the growers, the wine makers and the wine so well it is hard not to take a recommendation with a bit of excitement because you know it is going to be good. In this case I told the man helping me I wanted to keep the bottle under $100 (yikes! I know, crazy expensive, but I thought it was what I had to spend), to which he warmly smiled and said their sparkling wine program ensured every bottle to be priced below $40. Ummm, excuse me? Can you please say that again? Yes, EVERY SINGLE BOTTLE of bubbles in their store is under $40. Some of this is due to their intimate knowledge of the region and knowing where to invest in their inventory. But the overwhelming majority is due to relationships that allow them to import directly and pass the savings on to their customers. The bottle I ended up with was only $34.99 and was everything I could have hoped for…small beads (bubbles) with notes of toasty brioche, pinenuts and a touch of minerals. If you can find it, buy it. But the real message here is to investigate your local wine shop and get to know the people who work there. You really don’t have to spend tons of money to drink the best stuff out there, you just need to have the right people to help you find it.
Here are two great spots I know about, let me know if you have a favorite in the city you live in so I can add it to my list!
K&L Wines, http://www.klwines.com
638 4th Street
San Francisco, CA, 94107
Seattle Wine Outlet, http://www.seattlewineoutlet.net
946 Elliott Avenue West
Seattle, WA 98119