The wall of wine and how to negotiate it…PART ONE

“The wine section at your local grocery
is a minefield” 

That’s a quote from Epicurious and yes, the wall of wine is tricky territory.

The typical large grocery store carries between 500-700 different selections.
A few Portland-area supermarket consistently stock over 1000 different wines.

Recent industry surveys say the markup on grocery wine currently hovers around 50%.
Given that, it’s unlikely the wine section is going to get any smaller or easier to negotiate.

 Minefield?  Maybe.
Overwhelming?  Absolutely.



Two-thirds of what we buy in the supermarket,

we had no intention of buying.”


That claim comes from Paco Underhill,  author of “Why We Buy”, “Call of the Mall” and a recognized expert on the science of shopping.  Underhill has written extensively about how retail spaces are strategically designed to entice consumers to make impulse purchases.

In the strictest sense, buying wine is usually not a true “impulse purchase”.

When we go to a store to buy wine, we have definite intentions of leaving with a bottle.

But we’re influenced by the design of the space…how the wine is arranged, branded and merchandised…and where the wine is displayed on the end cap or on the wall.

End result:  we do leave with a bottle but often, it’s the bottle they want us to buy.

“I just want to pick up a quick bottle on my way home”

Therein lies the wine buying conundrum.

When shopping for wine, no one wants to spend one more moment than they have to.

On the other hand, no one wants to leave the store with a bad bottle.

Haste makes waste…or another bottle that will wind up in your spaghetti sauce…or worse yet, down the drain.

What’s a poor wine buyer to do?

Coming up here on the website, a few tips


There are ways to beat any system.

In Part two of “the wall of wine”, we’ll offer several tips that will give you a fighting chance next time you’re confronted with five or six or twelve hundred bottles in the dreaded wall.

Until then, you’re on your own at the supermarket…