May Day! May Day! Emergency Drinks in Dire Straits

I’d like to think you could find decent wine everywhere. That would be marvelous. But rather than simply wish it, I set out to prove it. Why? Because sometimes you really want wine and it’s late and the only place you can safely walk to that may have some is the 7-11 down the street. And also you wanted Oreos and most wine shops don’t have that, but let us look past my vices. You may need emergency wine and you are running errands and have a party to go to that night and don’t have time to get to a wine shop proper. Then what do you buy? I decided to visit a smattering of workaday places where you’d be running errands and see what wine was available. I allowed myself the out that if there was absolutely nothing vinous to consume, I’d try non-wine booze. And not succumb to Yellow Tail. Lordy-Lordess, let none of us do that please. As a control factor in this highly non-scientific study, I decided I would try at least a rosé from every place I shopped. Results below! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 7-11 In terms of dependably not-terrible wines, 7-11 was okay. There was some wretched stuff like Yellow Tail. But I also saw some Mark West Pinot Noir and also GatoNegro, a Chilean Cab I find crushable, plus I like cats. And then I saw it: Red Cat Fizz . A irreverent bottle of what looked to be a pink-red bubbly. More cat wine! I picked up the bottle and saw it hailed from the Finger Lakes. Sold! I hustled home and put it on ice. Meow! Cool on the eye but on the palate more like a disgruntled roar. Terrible. It was feral. I suppose I should have expected that. 7-11 YESSES: Mark West, GatoNegro 7-11 Oh hell no: Red Cat Fizz. And Yellow Tail TARGET I wasn’t sure what to expect of Target wine but was greeted at the entrance by a display of “The Collection” wines, designed especially for Target. Whether what lay in wait in the wine aisle proper was good or not, I appreciated that they had their priorities in line. In the booze aisle, I ignored my impulse to buy alcoholic horchata and soldiered on to the wine aisle. It was similar in size to the average grocery store, with all the typical grocery store staples, from Whispering Angel to the ubiquitous Yellow Tail. Which I again ignored. Naturally I ran into a high school friend who seemed validated that I, Ellen Clifford Official Wine A**hole, was buying wine at Target. So I felt even more A**hole proper explaining that I was merely there for journalistic purposes. He was a Target wine pro though and steered me towards a J. Lohr cab. I grabbed that plus “The Collection” Rosé as my control. Oh, and also? Maybe just get the cans of Cutwater Spirits Lime Margarita. It is scrumptious. “The Collection” Rosé It ain’t bad! A light lithe pink, it has a hint of residual sugar. But it is acidic enough to refresh and not too boozy and sort of complex—at least it tastes of multiple fruit categories (citrus, berry and stone) and flowers. Go Target. Maybe I should have tried the other colors in your wine rainbow. J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon A less tannic and more fruit forward pick. A cab that doesn’t need steak, it can roll solo which you may be doing too if like me you spend Saturday nights in the Target wine aisle. Target YESSES: The Collection California Rosé, Cutwater Spirits Lime Margarita, J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon Target Oh hell no: Yellow Tail duh. WALGREENS Let’s get this out of the way: they had Yellow Tail. If you like that plonk you could probably survive any scenario because someone will be selling it. But if you avert your gaze from the Yellow Tail and boxed Franzia, Walgreens also had a surprising amount of okay choices! I saw the work of Charles Smith (not Shaw!), Prophecy , and Dark Horse , which I count as solid inexpensive wines a step up from, say, Apothic and Cupcake . Which Walgreens also carried. I also saw a Pinto Grigio I actually really dig. I grabbed a bottle of Charles Smith ‘Band of Roses’ rosé (control wine!) and some tub cleaner and made a run for the checkout. 2018 Charles Smith Winery Band of Roses Oh hey! Another Pinot Grigio (except they call it Pinot Gris on the website but same grape, different name) rosé. It’s a whiff tropical with a dollop of something bordering on stinky the way good cheese borders on funk. I’m super into it. Walgreens YESSES: Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio , Charles Smith Band of Roses Walgreens oh hell no: Yellow Tail. You knew that. THE NEIGHBORHOOD LIQUOR STORE In LA, the only thing I see more of than liquor stores are donut shoppes and dental clinics. It’s quite the strategic feedback loop. And sure liquor stores stock the boozy booze, but I doubted their wine selection. Well, I went to my corner store, and they had boodles of wine. There were a lot of the same ones you see at the grocery from, yes, from Yellow Tail to Prophecy to Coppola . I decided for my control rosé to nab one new to me: Toad Hollow Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir . Liquor Store YESSES: Toad’s Hollow Rosé, Prophecy Liquor Store oh-hell-no: All together now--Yellow Tail! And Sutter Home. GAS STATION ROUND-UP I decided that clearly I needed to aim lower. I was finding wines too reasonable to make things interesting. I went to Shell. Their shop had no booze at all but I have a wicked penchant for Blue Monster drinks so…I used that taurine energy to go to the AMPM shop at the Arco station. They had loads of beer, and fun looking stuff like Hard Cider and Mike's Hard Lemonade. The only wine was four-packs of the mini Sutter Home White Zin. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. But you know what they DIDN’T have? Yellow Tail! I grabbed a Mike’s HARDER Cranberry. Not wine but I also have a penchant for Mike’s when it happens to be around. Let me tell you. Mike’s HARDER Cranberry is yummy as can be. But it ain’t wine. I went to Chevron the following day and…success! Not only Yellow Tail free but they also had quite a few options including bottles by local Los Angeles winery San Antonio. But also a boatload of less-likely-to-be-good Menage à Trois , Sutter Home , Beringer and some brands I’d never seen. I grabbed Menage à Trois Rosé as my control pink, and also a Fat Cat Pinot Grigio —as you might have noticed I like cats. Sadly the Menage à Trois, despite being a three-grape blend (ohhh I get it), tasted like…nothing. I mean it was fine. But not great. The Fat Cat Pinot Grigio was...well it didn’t quit taste like Pinot Grigio, but it wasn’t the worst. I am sad about the cat drinks. I want ones to extol. Gas Station YESSES: The fact that it is a Yellow Tail free zone, Mike’s Hard Cranberry, Fat Cat Gas Station oh hell no: Stella Rosa CONCLUSION My results may have been better than average living in a big metropolis. Perhaps I should go on a road trip. But if my results hold up, you should be able to find emergency wine nearly anywhere. And if that doesn’t pan out on May Day, well then, May the fourth be with you. Sorry, I’ll refrain from Star Wars jokes in the future. The Mike’s Harder made me do it. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Pink Wine, Pink Wine Everywhere Seder Sips Old World vs. New World Round Five: Zinfandel! But Is It Vegan? Classic Pairings for the Veggie Soul: Pairing Five You can also listen to Ellen's podcast with Shaughn Buchholz, The Wine Situation here .

The Collection (Target)

California Rosé Blend 2018

You know what? It’s decent. Better than I expected from Target. — 5 years ago

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Paul T- Huntington Beach

Paul T- Huntington Beach

Why are you buying wine at target? Under-ware & toothpaste only
Ellen Clifford

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@Paul Treadway Huntington Beacher Bum haha it’s for an article about buying wine at places you shouldn’t 🤣

J. Lohr

Seven Oaks Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Promised a friend I bumped into at Target I’d try it. It was thoroughly drinkable. Smooth cab. Blinded my bf on it and he guessed Merlot. Not especially complex but not unpleasant at all. — 5 years ago

Mark, David and 12 others liked this

"Odedi" Influencer Badge

Agreed 👍🏻


@Ellen Clifford Good call! 😄

Charles Smith

Band of Roses Washington State Rosé 2014

An over-deliverer always, that Charles Smith. I suppose when your name is that close to Charles Shaw you had probably better show up on point. Smith’s wines though—dependably tasty, more complex than your average bear which is saying something because bears are in fact fascinating mammals. Anyway. You know what else? This is a rosé of Pinot Gris aka Grigio ooooh. Tropical and a bit of funk and stone. It’s a disco-themed dance party. Which is a great party. I stand behind this statement. — 5 years ago

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Matt Perlman

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Cannot agree more wrt bears and disco parties
Ellen Clifford

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@Matt Perlman Oh fantastic! you get it

Hazlitt Vineyard

Red Cat Fizz Finger Lakes Red Blend

Don’t just don’t sadly I speak from experience — 5 years ago

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Severn Goodwin

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@Ellen Clifford Nice, can't buy wine in the 7-11 in MA, so I'm short on alternate suggestions.
Ellen Clifford

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@Severn Goodwin oh well let me know if there are places nationwide I need to see!
MaJ CappS

MaJ CappS Influencer Badge

No problem! Thanks for the heads up.

Ecco Domani

Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio

A girl, her grocery store wine and damn this goes with her small batch tortilla español but that’s another story. Am I the type of girl to chill with PG? Not really but I have this memory when I first moved to LA grabbing of this for a girlfriend who was feeling down. And it was super. This overdelivers for grocery store Pinot Grigio. It is bright and filled with minerals. It sings lemons and maybe some white peach. And over all some orange blossom water. Seriously? I’m into this much more than I want to be. Oh it’s good in a glass too — 5 years ago

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