The Best Wine at Safeway (& Tips to Buying Wine at the Grocery Store!)

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Right now, due to the outbreak of Covid-19, and store closings, Safeway isn’t offering wine pick up or delivery. For now, this article will give you tips on how to shop for wine for grocery stores in general, and some FAQ to keep in mind when circumstances change and you can go back to shopping Safeway.

Safeway is one of the most expansive grocery chains in the United States, with over thirteen hundred stores in the United States and Canada, but many may overlook it when searching for the best wine.

While grocery stores have long sold wine, many associate a trip to Safeway with boxed and bulk wine. In fact, Safeway sells a large selection of wine, and, with some savvy shopping, you can score the best the grocery chain has to offer. Under normal circumstances, keep this guide handy!

I’ll start by giving you alternatives to shopping for wine at grocery stores, then delve into a primer on grocery store wine. As circumstances change, this article will be updated, so stay tuned.

Safeway Alternatives

Like many things, the pandemic has also turned wine selection and shopping on its head. But no worries: there are still ways to enjoy wine, even now, and that comes in the form of wine subscription and delivery services.

Delivery Services

These may be restricted based upon your state (the same goes for subscriptions). Wine delivery services typically work by allowing you to browse large catalogs of wine and schedule your delivery to your home. These are one time purchases and you do not require any commitment, which may be ideal if you’re just looking for a way to enjoy wine under the current circumstances.

  • Winc: One of the best-known wine delivery services, Winc is right now offering 40 percent off your first order. See a full Winc Review.
  • Drizly: Drizly offers a large selection of wine and other alcohol delivered to your home or a local store. See a Drizly Review.
  • Total Wine: Total Wine offers same-day delivery that’s also contactless, meaning you can stay safe during the pandemic and still enjoy their wine. Shop Total Wine here.

Wine Subscription Services

These are services that deliver wine, often in a curated way. These are handy normally for entertaining, but can also be helpful if you’re interested in consistently getting shipments of specialty wine without the hassle of continuously placing orders. Always make sure you do your due diligence for research.

Check out our reviews of Firstleaf, California Wine Club, Palate Club, and Bright Cellars.

Do you have any general recommendations for the best grocery store wine?

Taking a look at the types of wine Safeway normally offers, as well as grocery stores, here are my top suggestions for affordable grocery store wine:

Barefoot Pinot Grigio

barefoot

The bestselling brand shines with a light and pleasing white wine, perfectly dry to complement crisp green apple, pear, and citrus notes. With a light body and clean finish, it’s great when paired with something like chicken or pasta. Light floral notes round out the taste, for an average of under ten dollars a bottle.

Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

josh cabernet

Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic choice, and Josh Cellars offers the classic at an affordable price with pleasing qualities. This California wine features a full-body and bolder cherry and vanilla flavors with a slightly oaky accent. Blackberry, hazelnut, and even a bit of spice round out the flavor and it pairs well with both red meat and fruit-based desserts.

Mionetto Prosecco Brut

 

A sparkling wine like Prosecco is an excellent option for pairing with creamy and salt dishes, especially meat and cheese trays. The Brut touch adds the perfect complement with golden apples, and just a touch of honey. It’s also versatile and can be used to make cocktails.

La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

la crema sonoma

A Pinot Noir from Northern California can present as a light body, with a fruity, playful appeal. Plums, bright cherries, and even pomegranate make for a lively wine with a longer than expected finish and a fine balance of acidity.

How do I find the best wine at a grocery store?

wine from stores

If you’re like me, you might be skeptical about finding wine from a grocery store, but also be on a budget, both time and money-wise. The truth is, not everyone can visit a specialty wine shop. Wine subscription services like Firstleaf and California Wine Club require commitment and come with their own concerns.

And right now, wine at Safeway may be about the most practical way to still enjoy your glass of choice.

To that end, I’ll walk you through how I’d look for wine at a grocery store–and my favorite contenders for best wine at Safeway, whether you prefer white, red, or rose. Let’s start with some general tips for finding wine at grocery stores:

Skip boxed wine

Boxed wine is there for a reason: it’s accessible, affordable and tends to be quite versatile. But if you are looking for the best wine, it’s generally best to walk right past boxes. Boxed wine tends to be what we’d call bulk wine. Bulk wine is typically delivered in large containers to stores and produced in large batches. Bulk wine tends not to be tied to a certain region or terroir and can vary in terms of quality. You can still find fairly affordable wine and skip the boxes.

Know what you’re looking for

In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges of shopping for wine at a grocery store like Safeway is there is little to no guidance. While occasionally stores will hold special tasting events, in general, you’ll be on your own when you look. The best rule of thumb is to get a sense of what kind of wine you like first.

Establish your wine preferences before shopping

You should know if you want a red, white, rose or sparkling wine. You should also have a sense if you prefer a dry, very dry, semi-dry, or sweet/ dessert wine. Ask yourself if you prefer citrus or stone fruit notes; if you value toasted or vanilla notes (common with barrel aging) and if you like a smoother wine with low acidity, or crisp, acidic wine. While you may have to discover some of this on your own over time, or by trial and error, writing down your preferences can be helpful and keep you from getting too distracted.

Be a label reader

I know it may be tempting to reach for a wine with a beautiful front label, or a wine that’s at the price point, but really reading the label can help. When you look at the label, ideally you’ll want to see: origin, tasting notes, and type (which also includes a level of sweetness). Sometimes you can’t get all this information from a label, but I recommend reading as much as possible.

Be wary of vague descriptions

While I recognize that Safeway is not a wine specialty store, your key to finding the best wine will still be gleaming as much information as possible. If a bottle of wine simply reads “red blend” but does not specify origin, grape varieties, or even flavor notes, be wary. While I’m not saying that a general red blend will absolutely not taste good, it may mean you’re not getting high quality wine.

Comparison shop. One thing I think many get wrong about shopping for wine is they might treat it differently than regular grocery shopping. That is, the savviest way to find the best value wine is to compare, not only to other stores but also with a wine like it. You don’t want to give yourself so many options you become overwhelmed, but at the same time, you should at least consider another option to see if it’s either a better price or maybe has flavor notes that more suits you.

Take a chance

My final recommendation for finding the best wine at Safeway and grocery stores, in general may seem to contradict previous advice, but it can pay off. While I do prefer going into a store like Safeway understanding my wine preferences, sometimes if you’re in a rut you need to permit yourself to try a bottle that is a little out of your comfort zone. That isn’t to say you should pick up something you know you won’t like, but trying some different flavor notes within the same family of wine may be a good idea. Opt for an affordable bottle and make it low risk. You might be surprised.

FAQs About Safeway

What time can I buy alcohol at Safeway?

What time you can buy alcohol at Safeway varies based upon state regulations. Wine and other alcoholic beverages usually can only be purchased within a set number of hours. In California, one of the most popular states for Safeway, customers can typically buy wine between 6 am and 2 am, Sundays included. You have to check with your state to see what guidelines exist, but the hours are pretty expansive.

Can you return the wine to Safeway?

For the most part, Safeway has reasonable return and exchange options. For most items, you only need a receipt and for the item to be undamaged or unused. However, you can’t return wine, which is a big downside. While I can understand this policy to a certain extent, many wine delivery services actually do allow customers to return wine or offer refunds. This limiting policy, in my opinion, makes it harder to shop at Safeway and it’s all that more important to understand how to find the best wine.

Do note that this isn’t just a Safeway policy; many other stores also do not allow returns and policies vary by state laws and regulations.

Does Safeway ever have any special wine deals or sales?

Yes; like the rest of Safeway’s departments, Safeway does occasionally have deals and promotions on their wine. Check weekly ads, local news outlets, and even promos online. And it never hurts to ask your local store if they plan on having sales anytime soon.

Does Safeway do double coupons?

While you may find others claiming, or searching for wine ‘double deals,’ the fact is that Safeway does not, in fact, accept double coupons. Instead, Safeway takes the highest discount. Your best bet is to wait for a sale on wine or shop frugally. You can, in fact, enjoy a decent wine at a fairly affordable price.

How can I save money at Safeway?

Whether you’re shopping for the best wine or something else, there are a few ways to save money at Safeway. My favorite ways to save money include using a Safeway Card, opting for store brands over name brands for other products, and being savvy about looking for sales. The Gas perks program can also be helpful, during normal times. For now, shop smartly and comparison shop if you feel like Safeway isn’t offering you the best deal.

Do grocery stores, like Safeway, have the best wine?

While I’ve given you my opinion on the best wine at Safeway, that isn’t to say that grocery stores have the best wine possible. Grocery stores do offer decent wine, but it can be tricky to find. Typically, your best bet at a grocery store is to settle for high quality but mid-priced wine. You’d be hard-pressed to find a fine age Champagne from France, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find decent wine.

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Erin Jamieson

Erin Jamieson brings the latest information to you on wine flavors and types so you can enjoy your next glass to the fullest. In the past, she covered wine selections for weddings and engagement parties. She also previously worked with a private chef company to suggest the perfect wine pairings and believes there is a flavor for every occasion. Erin Jamieson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Miami University of Ohio.

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