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8 Unexpected Places With Great Wine

Written by Madeline Puckette

It used to be that the best places to find great wine was at a fancy restaurant or in your own house. Fortunately, times are changing. You’ll be surprised to see where great wines are starting to be offered.

8 Unexpected Places to Find Great Wine

At The Stadium

Stadiums with good wine
Long time pro wine blogger Blake Gray was very enthusiastic about the wine selection at Oakland Athletics Stadium and, since then, we’ve seen notable improvements with the wines offered at several stadiums. Hopefully this trend will continue to concert/show venues. Who wouldn’t want a bottle of Dry Lambrusco to ring in an evening with Bill Burr?

At The Burger Joint

Burger joints with good wine
They’re serving sangria at Sonic Burger locations but we think we can do better. Indie burger joints like Gott’s in San Francisco (started in St. Helena) offer great wines at decent prices to pair with your quarter pounder. Of course, it’s no surprise that Gott’s has a good list because the owners, Duncan and Joel Gott, have a wine label too.

At The Mini Mart

mini marts with good wine
Royal Blue Grocery is an Austin mini mart that refuses to comply to the same ol’ crap we always see at a quickie mart. They’ve stocked up with fine cheeses, crackers, fresh fruit, pickled things and a stockpile of wildly delicious (and affordable) wines. Why aren’t more quickie marts like this?

At The Airport

airports with good wine
Let’s be honest, a drink before getting on a plane always sounds like a good idea. Fortunately, Vino Volo has filled the void of horrible airport bars to offer great wine. They have a great little wine ‘flavor decoder’ so you don’t have to think too hard to pick something. Also, in case you totally flaked on bringing home a gift, you can ante up some cash for a fancy bottle to hand carry off the plane. Just don’t bring wine into Utah for risk of getting arrested.

On The Airplane

airlines with good wine
Drinking wine on planes can feel a little awkward when you’re sitting next to a teetotaler (1 in 3 adults in the US doesn’t drink). However, sometimes it’s not about being polite, it’s about surviving.

Why Airplanes Change Drinking: With less air pressure and oxygen our sense of smell and taste is somewhat reduced while the sensorial experience of ‘floating-away’ is markedly enhanced. Qatar Airlines decided to say no to crappy wine on planes and even pays for flight attendants to be certified with Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET).

Drink At The Grocery Store

Grocery Stores with good wine
When you’re done shopping the Whole Foods in Brooklyn, you can walk upstairs to The Roof and pick from several wines by the glass. In case you don’t want to carry your groceries around with you, they even offer home delivery. In case that wasn’t enough, you can get your bike tuned while you shop.

At The Coffee Shop

Starbucks Wine Evenings
Starbucks started testing their wine program in 2011 and have now rolled out several ‘Starbucks Evenings’ stores all over the US. While their wine offerings are on the ‘large producer’ side of the spectrum, the menu shows enough diversity to appeal to a wide range of palates. Perhaps a coffee/sommelier certification is not too far off.

In The Middle of Nowhere

wilderness with good wine
In case living out of a tent for a few days starts to wear on your spirit, some of the most extensive and incredible wine lists can be found in the middle of nowhere. At Banff Springs, they champion many up-and-coming Canadian wines. If you visit Yosemite, you’ll find the list at Ahwahnee full of California gems. At El Tovar in the Grand Canyon, they will surprise you with many very affordable wines by the glass so you can really let loose. Clean yourself up as best you can at the camp shower and pull out that wrinkle proof shirt you’ve been saving, it’s time to have a proper drink.


Written byMadeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly

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