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May 21, 2007 02:53 PM

discount alcohol places in SF/Oak?

We are planning a big party and are looking for some discount beer/wine/liquor stores in the SF or Oak/Berkeley area - anyone know the best places to look? Is Costco our best bet?

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  1. Grocery Ourlet.

    Much cheaper than anyplace I've shopped. Currently there is Covey Run chardonnay for $1.50. Not an embarrassing wine to serve at a party. There is ... get this ... a case discount.

    The Jest Red is $1.99 and pretty good. The Jest Pink kind of sucks though. The wine/beer is sort of the luck of the draw, but great bargains can be had.

    It can run from expensive wine ... there's an Italian sparkler whose name I'm blanking on ... that usually sells for $30-$40 and is being sold for $9. Lower level ... 1/2 bottles of decent enough Braidenwood Chardonnay and white zin are 2 for $1 ... again ... case discount .... sheesh.

    Most of it is mid-level wines that usually retail for $7 - $15 a bottle that can be had from $2.99 - $5.99.

    Berkely Bowl has Crane Lake wine for $2.99 a bottle and these are really decent. I was surprised how good the red .was .. cabernet maybe. Cliff House serves Crane Lake as well as a number of restaurants.

    6 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      Grocery Outlet's wine is mostly if not entirely remainders, so quality is hit and miss, mostly miss in my experience buying their wines.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        All sorts of reasons for the discounts. A lot of it is close out or surplus. When Wine.Com and Webvan went under Grocery Outlet feasted on the carcases of those dead businesses like a vulture.

        In this article about Grocery Outlet in the East Bay Express about the wine at Grocery Outlet, Narsai David advises ...

        " You've got to know how to navigate. "The advice I give to my listeners is to talk to the wine manager or the store manager," he says. "Describe what you're looking for, and then buy a sample bottle of each wine they recommend"

        The article continues " some guys he knows crack open a bottle in the parking lot. If they like it, they're back in for a case."

        At any rate, they will take back any wine if it isn't good. However, the try it and then snap it up seems to be the best advice.

        I've had good luck there since I read the above Chowhound topic ... but I'm not looking for fine wine ... just pleasant and drinkable ... the type I wouldn't be embarassed to serve at a large party.

        That being said there are a few posts about bad bottles of wine ... it just seems a matter of tasting first before committing to a large quantity. Haven't noticed any hard liquor though at the GO's I shop at.

        1. re: rworange

          Grocery Outlet has managers who know the wines?

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Of course ... the San Pablo store has a MS in charge of the wines... ok, I'm just kidding about that.

            Dunno ... according to Narsai David they do ... though it might be location dependant. My wine needs in terms of GO isn't one where I ask for guidance. I only do that in stores where I'm paying over $20 a bottle like K & L. If that 50 cent bottle of white zin is bad, I offer it up to the wine gods. So far Dionysus has been smiling on me and the wine has all been fine ... as opposed to fine wine ... then again Bacchus might not be into Grocery Outlet wines.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              the Berkeley Grocery Outlet, on Fourth Street across from Brennan's, has a manager named Robaire (spelling?) who seems very familiar with the wine and I've often seen him talking on the floor about the wines to the corporate Grocery Outlet people who have their offices in that building as well as offering suggestions to store customers, some who seek him out. I'm not that knowledgeable about wines so I can't vouch for his taste but he does seem to know about what's selling and the origin of some of the lots.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Most Grocery Outlets are independantly owned and operated - so if the owner likes wine, that's who you want to talk to. Bennie in Oakland and Berkeley and Robaire in Berkeley both really know their stuff...

        2. So are you looking for hard alc to mix with? Costco is good for brands but Trader Joe's is good for off brand (but still good) volka and the like, good beer selection. If however you're looking for quantity and price, I agree, I'd check out Grocery Outlet. You just never know what you'll find.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ML8000

            Check out Smart & Final - good prices on standard alcohol.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Grocery Outlet on Broadway and 30th in Oakland has some great prices on beer!

              $9.95 for a 24 pack of regular Miller (the champange of beers!) I have not seen it cheaper anywhere else. Great for BBQ's in the sun, when some warm ,honey, wheat, syrup beer won't do.

              Plus they usually have some Carlsberg Elephants on sale too.Great for getting your drink on!

              As well as some cheap wines that blow $2 buck chuck away.

              1. re: Mission

                some of the other brews I've seen in the Grocery Outlet Oakland and Berkeley stores:

                - SLO (San Luis Obispo) Extra Pale Ale, $3.99/6-pack of 12 oz bottles, a good, hoppy EPA;
                - Pyramid beers (Seattle, Berkeley), Goose Island (Chicago), usually at $3.99/6-pack. Often see hefeweizen, seasonal beers, pumpkin and other flavored beers going for as little as $2.99/6-pack and
                - Once in a blue moon there are Belgian ales or Eastern European/Russian beers (Baltika) that are worth dipping into.

                Several of the Trader Joe's branded beers are actually made by Gordon Biersch of San Jose and go for about $4.99/6-pack. They also carry some passable Dutch pilseners (some in 16 oz cans) for about $3.99/6-pack.

            2. yesterday at the Oakland Grocery Outlet, picked up some boxes of King Fish 2005 Merlot in 1.5 liter cartons for $1.99 each. That comes out to the equivalent of less than a dollar for a 750 ml bottle. They only had a few boxes of the Merlot on the shelf but there were more boxes of a Chardonnay at the same price. from King Fish Vineyards of Manteca, CA. Last year Leslie Sbrocco had some nice words in the Chronicle about their boxed Shiraz which I didn't see at GO.

              link (check paragraph 5):

              They also had carton's of Foster's Australian beer, 12 cans of 25 oz. beer, for about $16.

              1 Reply
              1. re: zippo

                The Redwood City GO has the King Fish 1.5L Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Merlot boxes but they are $2.99 there. Still a good deal.