You can as well, with a good strategy.
If you don’t know Lidl, they’re all over Europe and they’re a cleverly run chain of German grocery stores. Why clever? Because their buyers are adept at responding to local needs and desires and mixing things up with themed cuisine offerings and a lot of VERY good prices coupled with surprisingly good quality.
Enjoy really good Italian wine on a daily basis without staring at an empty wallet.
I bet this caused you to perk up. If you already live in Italy you probably know Lidl. Or, maybe you’ve zoomed past their stores, thinking they’re some “poor people’s” bargain grocery store. If you’re moving to Italy or planning a big swath of time here, then I urge you to make Lidl part of your shopping strategy.
Lidl doesn’t have a huge wine aisle but they DO have a solid assortment, adjacent to some great options on the hard stuff (but that’s another story). You can get pricier wines north of twenty euro, but most of the wines are under six euro. Ding ding ding! My kind of store and my kind of budget!
My Wine purchasing MO
I’m a devotée of the Vivino app. It’s a great on-the-fly method of researching and buying wine. If you haven’t used it, you take a photo of the wine label and it scans its database for reviews, ratings and tasting notes. I’ve drawn many puzzled stares from locals as I move up and down the shelves in search of a bargain wine with enoteca-worthy quality.
An exceptional Italian wine discovery.
So, yesterday I hopped over to Lidl to shop for my dinner. I was in the mood for a nice, meaty red wine but I didn’t want to dip into my wine rack’s expensive holdings and I didn’t want, or need, the temptation to polish off a bottle too quickly fearing that it might go bad (haha!). On the third scan with Vivino I found a bottle of 2016 SerPasso Toscana red wine at 2.99 euro a bottle. Vivino delivered a 3.8 star rating out of five stars. My experience with Vivino is that wines above 3.5 definitely are worth checking out.
I popped one in my bag and took it home. As I was making dinner I prepared some salami and nuts to snack on, and I uncorked the wine. I turned my nose up at the synthetic cork. This doesn’t bode well, I thought, while preparing myself to sip on a wine that would be devoid of complexity. Boy, was I wrong! You know how you expect one thing and then you experience something else, something WAY beyond your expectations and you have one of those movie moments when everything else seems to fall away and time stops? Well, that’s how it was for me, even though you’re probably thinking that I’ve gone over the top.
A big, fruity red, soft tannins, nice complexity, and a LONG finish.
This kind of red wine is right up my alley. I was literally stunned to taste this wine while trying to reconcile how a 2.99 euro price tag could possibly be right. Remember Trader Joe’s Two-Buck Chuck? I recall thinking, Not bad, and stocking up on it. That wine lost steam and its appeal pretty quickly. I chided myself as a I longed for better quality and thought, Jed, you get what you pay for.
Not in this case, unless I simply was temporarily out of my mind.
I almost ran back to Lidl.
With a large cloth bag in hand. It had only been thirty minutes since I had purchased the one bottle. I imagined other people having just made the same discovery I had and already were rushing back to the store to claim the remaining bottles.
Thankfully, I didn’t encounter competitors that I would have to swat away. I calmly claimed eight bottles, leaving a few lonely survivors. My cloth bag was bulging. I went to the register, smugly thinking I had scored the last of this treasure. I wasn’t willing to consider that maybe a flat of this wine remained.
My total? Less than twenty-five euro for eight bottles. Think about it. Damn good wine (one that I’d love to slip into a blind taste test against snooty high-price-tags reds) at around $3,35 a bottle with the current conversion rate. And, this is NO Two-Buck Chuck.
I’m happy to have filled out the vacant slots on my wine rack with this beauty. But, I’m already considering another run to Lidl to see if they have any left. This kind of wine find doesn’t happen often. I’ve enjoyed other superior wines from Lidl but those have usually required that I trade up to the six to ten euro range.
Make Lidl your friend.
Not just for wine, but for artisanal cheeses, grass-fed beef, specialty cuisines (right now they’re doing a Greek-themed section) and loads more.
And, if you can find SerPasso, grab every bottle you can!
This Just In!
A confession. I’d written this blog post and readied it for the launchpad. Then, I went back to Lidl. Four bottles of SerPasso remained. And, they’re all mine!