Ah, the holidays - all that frenzy, all those decisions. Not the Christmas holidays. I've started celebrating my own special season in January: Wine-sale season.
There are mini-wine sale seasons through the year. Stores usually have a lot of markdown at the end of summer to clear out space for the fall releases, and sometimes they run big sales for reasons I can't fathom without a marketing degree. But the one I watch for is in January, when supermarkets clear out old vintages to make space for the new stuff.
Harris Teeter is always a big player, although I've also celebrated the season at other stores. Earth Fare usually is a good hunting ground, too. But I know it's wine-sale season when I see those big blue tags hanging off the Teeter shelves. I make a point to start bringing my bottle-bag into the store and warn my grocery haulers at home that I'll be bringing home extra bottles for a few weeks.
Think of it like an Easter egg hunt for grownups: I troll the tags, looking for the big numbers. Forget $2 or $3 off. I fish for $5 off or higher, I always stop at $7-off and $9-off is my personal "cha-CHING." I don't always bite, though. $10 off on a $50 wine is still out of my league. But $10 off on a $20 bottle is 50% off - very enticing.
I generally stick to wines, regions and labels I know, but when a $25 wine comes down to $15, I'm willing to take chances. I've been burned occasionally, but never badly. This weekend, I scored two cabernets and a zinfandel. The zin was a little oxidized, a bit brown around the edges, but it still had plenty of fruit. I'm not looking for wines to impress, just stuff in a comfortable price range for weeknights, a glass of red to go with a plate of pasta or something from the slow cooker.
Maybe it's not everybody's idea of a season to celebrate, and I certainly get even more excited about asparagus season. But in January, it's the little things that count off.