A Guide to Wine, Food & the Good Life
To subscribe and be notified anytime we post a new article, enter your email address in the box below, then click on Subscribe Now.

Underground Wine Line

Similar Articles:

  1. 2016 STUPID WINE DESCRIPTION AWARD WINNERS AND MORE!
  2. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017!
  3. BURGUNDY – 2016 VISIT
  4. YIKES! THE 1000 POINT WINE SCORE IS HERE
  5. CHAMPAGNE DAY 2016
  6. OUTSTANDING OLD MARSANNAY ROSÉS
  7. A MONTE BELLO TOAST TO PAUL DRAPER
  8. THE PERILS OF FARMING – MOTHER NATURE DEVESTATES BURGUNDY
  9. DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME OF YEAR IT IS ON THE WINE CALENDAR?
  10. THE DAILY MEAL WINERY AWARDS
  11. STUPID WINE DESCRIPTION OF THE YEAR?
  12. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016!
  13. ENCORE: DEAR SANTA, WE’VE GOT A LITTLE LIST
  14. BACK TO THE FUTURE
  15. A VIEW OF THE 2015 BURGUNDY VINTAGE IN ADVANCE OF THE ANNUAL UNDERGROUND WINELETTER TRIP TO BURGUNDY TO TASTE THE 2014S
  16. I HATE TO TELL YOU “I TOLD YOU SO” BUT “I TOLD YOU SO!”
  17. WHAT’S IN YOUR WINE GLASS?
  18. MORE ON BIB WINE
  19. THE JUDGMENT OF MOSCOW
  20. ROSÉ WINES AND THE GREAT ROSÉS OF PROVENCE
  21. A SHOT OUT OF THE BLUE: WE HAVE A NEW ENTRY IN THE WINE INGREDIENT LABELING DERBY
  22. PREMOX: “WHEREFORE ART THOU?”
  23. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015!
  24. PREVIEW: ALONG THE BUGUNDY TRAIL VINTAGE 2013
  25. CAUTION! WHAT’S IN YOUR WINE?
  26. FOR THE LOVE OF ROSÉS
  27. THE BEST WINERIES IN AMERICA - THE TOP 3 ARE FROM CALIFORNIA'S CENTRAL COAST!
  28. STOP THE PRESSES! THERE IS A NEW SCORING SYSTEM!
  29. WINE WRITING – WHAT IS IT?
  30. POLYESTER WINES
  31. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014!
  32. THE UNDERGROUND IS BACK!
  33. CALLING TIME OUT
  34. ROSÉ - IT’S TIME HAS COME
  35. ARE NUTRITIONAL LABELS COMING TO ALCOHOLIC DRINKS?
  36. THE BLENDING GAME: ROSÉ & MORE
  37. ATTENTION ALL WINE CONSUMERS: WINE INGREDIENT LABELING IS HERE!
  38. EXCLUSIVE NEWS FLASH!
  39. THE GREATER FOOL?
  40. DOMAINE ALBERT GRIVAULT
  41. TASTING WINE VS. DRINKING WINE - IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?
  42. A PAIR TO DRAW TO & A GUIDE FOR WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WINES THAT ARE FOOD FRIENDLY, BALANCED, AND CAPABLE OF AGING FOR AN EXTENDED TIME
  43. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013!
  44. THE UNDERGROUND HISTORY AS WE BRIEFLY LOOK BACK AND THEN CONTINUE TO FOCUS ON THE FUTURE
  45. BYE BYE BIG KAHUNA
  46. A LOOK AT NV CHAMPAGNE – IS IT REALLY DIFFERENT THIS TIME?
  47. FAKE WINES IN CHINA - THE BEAT GOES ON
  48. 2011 BURGUNDY – THE SURPRISE VINTAGE
  49. THE MARRIAGE BLEND
  50. LOOKING FOR OLD WINE WITH IMPECCABLE PROVENANCE?
  51. WINE FRAUD AND A WINE DETECTIVE - THE STORY OF DON CORNWELL
  52. HISTORIC VINEYARD SOCIETY
  53. DON’T GET YOUR KNICKERS IN A TWIST!
  54. THE BLENDING GAME - IS IT TIME FOR THREE BUCK CHUCK?
  55. EVERYTHING YOU HAVE BEEN DYING TO KNOW ABOUT NEWLY RELEASED CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS!
  56. COUNTERFEIT WINE AND THE ROLE OF CHINA
  57. THE JUDGMENT OF PRINCETON
  58. WHEN TO TASTE, DRINK, & ENJOY YOUNG WINES & WHAT ABOUT ROSÉ?
  59. THE VINEYARD OR THE WINEMAKING? WHAT REALLY MATTERS?
  60. BLENDING GAME PREVIEW
  61. PREDICTING THE FUTURE!
  62. AMATEUR NIGHT AT THE WINE FOLLIES: THE ANSWER WAS LYING IN PLAIN SIGHT
  63. THE PERFECT WINE?
  64. ATTENTION COSTCO WINE SHOPPERS: WHEN IS A ROSÉ NOT A ROSÉ?
  65. NAPA VALLEY WINES – JUST WHEN I THOUGHT WE HAD SEEN EVERYTHING!
  66. THE WINE FRAUD STORY – THE BEAT GOES ON!
  67. DO WINE AND TOILET PAPER HAVE ANYTHING IN COMMON?
  68. WINE JUSTICE STRIKES!
  69. FOODIES FIGHTING FOR FOIE!
  70. CALLING ALL WINE INVESTORS
  71. ONE WINEDRINKER’S OBSERVATIONS OVER NEARLY 30 YEARS: TWO FACES OF FRAUD? MORE TO COME?
  72. NEWS FLASH -- NEW ALCOHOL WARNING LABELS FOR WINE MAY SOON BE ISSUED!
  73. ROSÉ IS THE PERFECT ANTI WINE
  74. AN ENIGMA WRAPPED IN A RIDDLE – CAN AN UGLY DUCKLING BECOME A SWAN?
  75. STOP THE WINE PRESS! THE FBI HAS MOVED TO STOP WINE FRAUD!
  76. 2004 WHITE BURGUNDIES: PREMOX OR NOT? THE BEAT GOES ON!
  77. GOOD NEWS BAD NEWS
  78. WHAT’S ULLAGE GOT TO DO WITH IT? - THE CURIOUS CASE OF 1928 LA GAFFELIÉRE NAUDES
  79. LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE!
  80. WINE FRAUD – LIGHTNING STRIKES!
  81. WINE FRAUD – CAVEAT EMPTOR!
  82. BIRDS OF A FEATHER - LAUGHABLE WINE DESCRIPTIONS
  83. TIS THE SEASON!
  84. WHAT’S IN YOUR WINE BOTTLE?
  85. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012!
  86. A NEW WINE FOR THE HOLIDAYS THAT HAS EVERYONE BUZZED
  87. WHAT IS A WINE CONSUMER TO DO?
  88. IS IT DRINK NOW AND PAY LATER? YOU BET YOUR SWEET BIPPY, BUT BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!
  89. BE THE MASTER OF YOUR DOMAIN!
  90. TAKE A DIFFERENT VIEW THAT IS EASY ON YOUR PALATE AND ON YOUR WALLET
  91. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL - OCTOBER 2011
  92. Z IS FOR ZINFANDEL
  93. A NOTE FROM DARRELL CORTI
  94. THE BIRDS ARE STILL FLOCKING – WATCH OUT BELOW!
  95. SOME MORE BIG HOUSE RELATIVES PAY A VISIT TO THE UNDERGROUND
  96. WINE & CLOSURE
  97. YIKES! THE TIDE MAY BE GOING OUT SOON! WHO’S SWIMMING NAKED?
  98. WHAT IS WINE?
  99. HALLELUJAH!
  100. BLENDING GAME -- BLENDING MAN TO THE RESCUE
  101. HEARD ON THE GRAPEVINE
  102. NOW APPEARING AT A STORE NEAR YOU - DON'T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA STARRING MALBEC & TORRONTES
  103. BLENDING PARTY – A NEW TWIST – FLASH DASH – WHAT'S IN YOUR GLASS?
  104. BBBB TRIBUTE
  105. OMG - IS IT THE END OF THE WORLD OR NOT?
  106. TAKE THE WINE CHALLENGE - BLENDING IS YOUR FRIEND!
  107. THE BORDEAUX ROAD AHEAD - A BUBBLE, A SPEED BUMP, OR BLISS?
  108. HERE AT LAST – BEYOND 100 POINTS – NIRVANA!
  109. BIRDS OF A FEATHER…
  110. FLASH! BIG NUMBERS WINE CRITIC ISSUES REPORT ON 2009 BEAUJOLAIS
  111. SPÄTBURGUNDER – WHAT IS IT?
  112. PINOT GRIS. IT'S FOR ME. DO YOU KNOW PINOT GRIS?
  113. THE BEAT GOES ON AND ON … “SUM YUNG VINE” X 2
  114. AND THE BEAT GOES ON…
  115. 100-POINT WINES – GET ‘EM WHILE YOU CAN!
  116. STORAGE, STORAGE, STORAGE!
  117. HAPPY THANKSGIVING! IT'S TIME TO GIVE THANKS AND ENJOY FOOD AND WINE!
  118. WOW! 2009 RED BURGUNDIES. STAY TUNED!!
  119. TIME TO GET INTO BEAUJOLAIS!
  120. A BARGAIN AT WHAT PRICE?
  121. VINOUS DRIVE-BY -- IT'S THE DRIVE-BY SIP AND SPIT!
  122. WINE TASTING OF THE MILLENNIUM
  123. ANSWER TO WINE TASTING OF THE MILLENNIUM
  124. PAST LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
  125. DEAR SANTA, WE'VE GOT A LITTLE LIST
  126. THE UNDERGROUND IS BACK!
  127. WHY THE “UNDERGROUND” WINELETTER? ARE WE TERRORISTS?

DO WINE AND TOILET PAPER HAVE ANYTHING IN COMMON?

John Tilson • 5/13/12        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

 


 

I can sometimes have a vivid imagination, but I did not make this up. This is something that came out of a CNBC special “The Costco Craze: Inside the Warehouse Giant.”

In that program there was an interview with Annette Alvarez Peters who is Costco’s principal wine buyer. She said “Is (wine) more special than clothing, is it more special than televisions? I don’t think so.” And, in response to the questions – “Certainly it’s different than toilet paper? Or different than tin foil?” – she replied “Why?” The response was “Because it’s personal.” And, she said “People can look at it that way. But, at the end of the day, it’s just a beverage.” I saw this reported in a newspaper article. That article goes on to say that “The backlash was immediate and severe.” (To read that article click here)

Say what? Immediate and severe backlash? Gimme a break! Costco sells great products at great prices. My involvement with the company goes back to the company that preceded Costco. It was founded by the late Sol Price and was named Price Club. The first store was in San Diego and I visited that store in the 1970s driving over a 100 miles to get there. Later  two executives, Jim Senegal and Jeffrey Brotman, left the Price Club to form Costco. A number of years later Costco bought the Price Club stores and renamed them all Costco. Last year I did an article on pre-selected wines purchased mail order from the Wall Street Journal. I then purchased other wines in the same price range from Trader Joe’s and Costco. In that article I also detailed the historical background of Costco and Trader Joe’s and my involvement with the companies. The conclusion of the tastings was that Costco offered the best wines for the money. (To read that article click here)

 

 

So I must say I agree with Ms. Peters. Wine is just another food product. It is a beverage to be enjoyed with other foods. Those who seek to make it something that is unfathomable to the average consumer get nothing but disdain from me. There is no reason for wine to be complicated. I love wine, but I am first and foremost a consumer. The Underground is dedicated to the consumer. (To read one of my recent articles on this subject click here) 

Without question, Costco is dedicated to bringing the best products to people at the best prices. They have intense competition, but have emerged as the #1 wine retailer in the U.S. with annual wine sales of over $1 billion and the 6th largest US retailer overall. And, with a very low cost structure and very disciplined pricing where nothing is sold at more than a 15% mark up over cost, their prices are hard to beat.

 

So wine to Costco is another product like all of the products they sell. Their goal is to sell the best products at the best price. In the case of wine, that includes everything from classified growth Bordeaux wines such as Petrus and Mouton Rothschild (Costco is the #1 importer of wine in the U.S.), to private label brands (Kirkland Signature) sourced for them from all over the world, and a wide variety of other wines in all price ranges. In the case of toilet paper that includes the Kirkland Signature brand and national brands. My wife and I shop at Costco at least once a week. We buy a wide variety of products there. And, yes that includes wine and toilet paper. So what do wine and toilet paper have in common? Nothing! Except that we buy these and other products — fresh produce, fish, household goods, business supplies, clothes, plants, dog food, and almost anything else you can imagine — regularly from Costco and have been doing so for over 30 years. We are always pleased with the quality and value. That’s why we keep going back. What’s not to like about that?

 

In Vino Veritas,Sig

John Tilson

Post a Comment

10 comments for “DO WINE AND TOILET PAPER HAVE ANYTHING IN COMMON?”

  1. costco has contributed more to the american middle class than the u.s. government.

    Posted by Ted Weiser | May 14, 2012, 7:39 am
  2. Hi John

    A good article about Costco, as far as it goes. We love the store and the concept, shop there regularly, and also saw the CNBC special.

    The problem with a wine director who knows nothing about wine is reflected in the changes in their selection over the past several years. In 2003-07 they carried superb wines at prices around 65% of retail. I bought 2001 Latour and 2002 Lafite-Rothschild @ $115-130, 2003 Carruades @ $44, 2001 Pichon-Lalande & Leoville-Barton for $50, wonderful 2000 Pontet-Canet and Grand-Puy-Lacoste for $35. While there one day I happened to overhear a local distributor salesman on his cell phone screaming at his office because a high-end Priorat was selling for $5 less than his wholesale price.

    Those days are long gone. Their selection is now lackluster, with an occasional few interesting wines priced at par with any other retailer. Like so many their other products, I expect that their wine offerings will be gradually taken over by their Kirkland label. Those are not “bad” wines, and I am all in favor of more bulk wines that more people can afford and enjoy. Perhaps a great wine selection in a discount warehouse is too much to expect, but I certainly do miss it!

    Best

    Mort

    Posted by Mort Maizlish | May 14, 2012, 10:47 am
  3. Great piece. Love the Underground. Used to be the Journal, right? Costco, aka Kirkland Nation, does sell very decent wines at very good prices. I do not regret the lost days of being able to buy growth Bordeaux at value prices since I stopped buying these decades ago from anywhere. I still buy pricey Burgs and Baroli. However, the problem with the Costco wine buyer is she will not spend a bit more time discriminating between plonk and value wine. Why should she? I wouldn’t look for a premium driver (switching to golf) at Costco either. I would go to Roger Dunn or Golfsmith. However, I do like the great deal Kirkland Nation has on Titleist golf balls. Not the Pro Vs but still pretty decent balls and CHEAP. If you want great deals on wine you are better off at a local real wine retail shop that has moved in step with the current economic recession. They know what to order and how to price it. Like your recent rose’ article. Another strategy for enjoying very good wines at very good prices. All this has made me nostalgic for the 1987 Dunn Howell I bought in Trader Joes for $14…in 1990.

    Posted by Steve Stumpf | May 14, 2012, 11:32 am
  4. Hi Ted,
    At least I know Costco’s contribution give my longtime shopping experience there. Really good things at great value for the money – that’s Costco. But everyone needs to remember that each Costco store is different. With regards to wine I went over that in the piece I did entitled
    ‘The Dueling Inexpensive Red Wine Line-Ups – Which Ones Went To The Drinking Round And Which Ones Went Down The Drain”
    http://www.undergroundwineletter.com/2011/05/the-dueling-inexpensive-red-wine-line-ups-which-ones-went-to-the-drinking-round-and-which-ones-went-down-the-drain/
    Take a look!
    In Vino Veritas,
    John

    Posted by John Tilson | May 15, 2012, 4:48 pm
  5. Thanks Mort,
    The wine director does know something about wine. She has industry credentials and is studying for her Master of Wine credential.
    Also, please remember that each Costco store carries products suited to that area. Talking about our store here in Goleta for a moment, the wine selection is the worst of any Costco store I have been in and those probably number at least 2 dozen over the past couple of years. I think it is geared to the UCSB students who want more bang for less money. The really good wines never make it to Goleta. But, you can find them in Marina Del Rey assuming you are there the day they arrive. Then you can buy first growth Bordeaux at prices below the market.
    With regard to other wines I find some good local wines like Chardonnays from Qupé at rock bottom prices. Likewise, a few imports. But, I can get better wine selections at Costco stores in areas where I occasionally pass through. These include Bakersfield, Fresno, Oxnard, Long Beach, Garden Grove, Marina Del Rey, and Santa Maria. We, however, do have some food products in the Goleta store that are not in a lot of the other stores and I could cite numerous items that are completely different from store to store. So shop around at different Costcos. You will see what I mean.
    In Vino Veritas,
    John

    Posted by John Tilson | May 15, 2012, 5:00 pm
  6. Thanks Steve,
    Yes. You can read our entire history by going to the website http://www.undergroundwineletter.com and clicking on “About Us”.
    I think there is a place for Costco, Trader Joe’s, and local wine stores. They are serving different markets. But in my article
    ‘The Dueling Inexpensive Red Wine Line-Ups – Which Ones Went To The Drinking Round And Which Ones Went Down The Drain” I found Costco came out on top for red wines in an inexpensive price category. There the focus was on quality and value and not 2 buck chuck! More on that in an upcoming Blending Man article.
    Costco has value and price. Each store is different. Some carry some things and not others. It is a treasure hunt. That’s a key element of the business model.
    In Vino Veritas,
    John

    Posted by John Tilson | May 15, 2012, 5:22 pm
  7. The problem with Costco (from an inside perspective)is that they treat wine like it’s toilet paper…they store it inappropriately, transport it inappropriate, merchandise it terribly and when it comes to buying it you get about as much guidance as when you picking out your next roll of TP. Sure it’s alright for a cheapo bottle but do you really want to buy wines that you are going to savor or perhaps even to cellar when you know they have the worst provenance possible? Wine is not just another product to be shoved around in semi trucks and big warehouses, wine is fragile and temperamental, it requires professional handling and storage. Go to a real wine store, that often have just as good pricing as Costco and have them give you a personal recommendation.

    Posted by Ryan W | May 20, 2012, 9:47 pm
  8. Hi Ryan,
    Interesting. Just curious, what is your inside perspective? Do you work at Costco? Or do you work in a wine store? I don’t know about the storage and transportation, but I do know that I have buying wine at Costco for as long as they have been selling wine and have never had an oxidized bottle or a bottle that showed any evidence of poor storage (leaking, etc.) It’s true their selection of wine is limited, just as it is for all the product categories in their stores. And, the selection varies a great deal from store to store as I have mentioned in my articles. Higher end wine is almost never available in my store (at least none that I want). I buy those wines elsewhere through many wine merchants across the country. There are many of these merchants and they are invaluable. But, there are always really good bottles of wine at great prices at Costco. Many of these are included in my articles. I could recite dozens that I have bought in the last year. And, yes you do not get a lot of help in selecting wine at Costco. That is also true for everything else they sell. If you need advice on what to buy, you may want to look elsewhere. But, if you know what you want, and you see it at Costco, you can be sure that you are buying it at a great price. In short, it’s a big market for wine and there is room for everyone.
    The Underground has been writing about wine storage for over 30 years. My cellar is dark, very cold, and has high humidity. These are ideal conditions for the long term storage of wine. You can read a lot on this subject on our website.
    In Vino Veritas,
    John

    Posted by John Tilson | May 21, 2012, 7:54 am
  9. Hi John,

    Yes as I said Costco is just fine for people picking up an everyday bottle when they know what they want. But for the exact reason you wrote this article, I would not generally recommend people to buy wine at Costco, they treat it like toilet paper. My inside knowledge comes from working (in the wine industry) with a couple people who have worked and in one case managed Costco stores. They have many horror stories about the way the wine was transported / delivered, left on loading docks in baking heat, shunted around unceremoniously by lousy fork lift operators who are more used to moving…toilet paper. I should add I am perhaps biased by a general dislike of large stores like this, regardless of the type of merchandise. I guess I’m just not as ruthlessly cost driven as some consumers and value my shopping experience as well as bottom line pricing. I very much enjoy the Underground Wine Letter for these thought proving articles.

    Cheers
    Ryan

    Posted by Ryan W | May 22, 2012, 11:13 am
  10. Thanks Ryan,
    But, as I said I have never had a bottle that showed any sign of being mishandled or damaged. And, if i did I am sure that Costco would give me a refund as they do on any product they sell. I like the “treasure hunt” experience for all products I buy there and almost never have a need to ask a question. And I know I am always getting a rock bottom price. Having said all this, I just had an experience there last week that I will be reporting on soon. Stay tuned!
    In Vino Veritas,
    John

    Posted by John Tilson | May 31, 2012, 3:38 pm

Post a Comment