“We just got a notice that we received an Honorable Mention for Best Wine Store in Long Beach. Honorable Mention…who won?!” it was Dale, (Randy’s wife) her face was so expressive, so readable, she was crushed. “Um, what publication?” I asked her, “Beach Comber” she replied, “Oh then Trader Joes is going to win” I blurted. I didn’t say it to sound like an ass but my mind shifted back to when The Press Telegram, (Long Beach paper…horrid, horrid rag of a paper) used to do, “The Best of” contest once a year….(shrugging) Trader Joes, Best Wine Store…always went to Trader Joes.
“If they win then it is because they have a bigger selection of cheap wine.” Dale said looking even more irked, “Exactly why they ARE going to win” I replied. So a couple of weeks later when Randy walked in with his crunchy little, been-left-on-the-front-porch-too-long copy of The Beach Comber I first asked, “Dude did you let the dogs wiz on it first?” as it was sporting a very wiz-colored patch, and then was not at all surprised to see the winner of The Best Wine Store in Long Beach was indeed awarded to Trader Joes. Seems like “good enough” took first prize again, Yay! As I looked over the other, “winners” I had to wonder just who the hell voted in this thing…Best Sandwich went to Subway and Best Breakfast went to Denny’s….freaking awesome.
I’m the first to admit for a big city, Long Beach has a near terminal lack of decent restaurants, seriously there are like 5, (and that is being kind) really good places to eat. Sure we have some fantastic ethnic food but anything above the walk up window and you are kind of shit out of luck, but Denny’s and Subway?! Well with that illustrious group I guess Trader Joe’s wine selection being The Best makes perfect sense…lots of “medium” to choose from, and fer real cheap! I mean who gives a crap if it’s interesting, you can have 3 eggs, 2 strips of bacon, 2 sausage links, hash browns and a stack of air-filled tasteless flapjacks for like $5.00 or 6 bottles of wine for under $20.00….what more could you want? Um, more, lots more.
Wine doesn’t have to be expensive to taste good or please you, there are many fantastic wines under $10.00, from all over the world…the $5.00 and under category might be a bit tougher and I have to wonder how many people think they don’t really like or get wine because they are limiting themselves to the grocery store, (and let us not forget that is Trader Joe’s thing, they are a grocery store, one that had a rich wine past but opted instead to stock cheap wines or wholesaler closeouts. They do have some “finds” from time to time but the majority of what they stock is less than interesting and you are getting what you are paying for) and that $5.00 and under sweet spot. Five bucks is what you spend on coffee, chuck in a few more duckets and the QPR is upped dramatically.
Randy and Dale get a lot more wounded by those “Award” dealies and I don’t blame them, they have busted their asses, bled and lost sleep over that store of theirs…I have too but I think seeing those people come through the door every day, coming to the tasting and classes, sending us Christmas cards…all that amounts to a lot more than some pee stained newspaper award. I don’t want to be Denny’s, Subway or Trader Joe’s, I love being The Wine Country. I love our selection, I love our staff, our customers, turning people onto funky little wines that have enough going on to bring them back...even though we don’t have those little pop in the microwave brown rice things. Wonder if they have a “Created More Lifelong Wine Drinkers” award…that one I am sure we have a shot at!