To celebrate the upcoming Grocery Outlet wine sale, I am giving away a $25 gift card good at any area Grocery Outlet !
The big Wine Sale runs November 7th-11th and all wines are 20% off already bargain prices!
I just love finding bargains at Grocery Outlet
. They have the best deals on organic produce, nuts, and cheeses, and every once in a while I find a wine (most recently a Torrontes made by Espiritu
). It was $2.99 per bottle and tasted like $7.99 or $8.99 per bottle. It is such a wonderful everyday wine, that my boyfriend bought a case, and I think I have bought about 2 cases by now in the past 2 months… I kept buying it 2-3 bottles at a time when I saw it was still in stock.
I was curious about the wines at Grocery Outlet
and took the opportunity to interview a wine buyer for the company, Andy Lee
Please tell me a little bit about yourself and your position with Grocery Outlet
I’m a 25 yr veteran of the wine industry and have worked all three tiers of the traditional three tier system. Starting in retail in a small gourmet food and fine wine/beer shop that led to a 12 yr stint in distribution…followed by another 12 yrs working with wineries and then was lured back by the intrigue that is Grocery Outlet
. I didn’t see myself in a retail buying position at this stage in my career, but the dynamic nature of the company and the overall intelligence of the people drew me into the fold. Every day is exciting and stimulating. The thrill and passion I’ve enjoyed throughout my career is now derived from getting a great wine at an incredible price and sharing that value with our customers.
CG: What got you interested in wine? What got you into the industry?
AL: Work in the restaurant and retail industry helped pique an interest in wine for me. I saw it as a part of a healthy lifestyle which includes great food, friends and family. I was fortunate enough to rekindle a relationship with a former employer shortly after I finished college and ending up taking on the role of buyer for his store that featured 500 beers and ales and a selection of wine that included great Barolo, Bordeaux, California wines and Champagne. As the store was sold I was recruited by a couple of wine distributors in Seattle and the rest is history.
AL: Through many contacts my team and I receive samples of wines that are for various reasons “excess inventory.” The opportunities we receive range from simple overproduction for the market to mergers and liquidations. We are also the recipient of wines from wineries that have launched new packages.
CG: Do you get to try the wines that get picked up by the stores or is it just a stab in the dark?
AL: There are exceptions, but most of the time someone from the Beer & Wine team has tasted. In most cases we have tasted the wine as a panel, in this way we come to an agreement on value that in turn leads to our offer on the wine.
CG: What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
AL: Food and wine is a passion for me. I’m always looking for that ah-hah moment. A favorite go to for me is a pasta dish with chicken, broccoli and goat cheese (with a few pepper flakes for punch) paired with Sauvignon Blanc…goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc create a wonderful flavor marriage as well as texture. Another is a bit old and stodgy but still spot on…Stilton Blue Cheese, Bosc Pear and Vintage Port, the flavor created by this pairing still amazes me! Dungeness Crab and German Kabinett, I could go on all day…
I’d like to thank Andy Lee for the Q & A. It was certainly interesting and sounds like my dream job! Here’s Andy hard at work on the job!