I admit, moving from downtown Vancouver to the suburbs of Calgary was a HUGE change. We had lived in Vancouver for 8 years and wanted to buy a house, so off to Alberta it was. We were ready for the challenge, plus, it gave us the chance to scour the city for the best places to buy wine! I present to you….The Calgary Wine Buyers’ Guide!
This category is an easy one for me, not because I am cheap and love to find a good deal… ok maybe that is part of it. My go-to for the best bang for my hard-earned dollars is Costco. Their mantra is basically to give you the biggest of anything for the cheapest price. When it comes to wine, they don’t necessarily have ‘big’ handled, most bottles are 750ml. But, they do offer great deals on some quality wine. And bonus: you don’t have to be a Costco member to purchase from them.
Personally, I’m a white drinker and I find a good variety of whites at Costco. It has its own Kirkland varietals of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and even Prosecco. In addition to some heavy hitters like Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. The price points at Costco on these wines are what got me, as well as their consistency in quality. For example, most retailers will sell Kim Crawford for between $17.99 and $19.99. You can find it at Costco for approximately $14.29, every day.
For a red, Costco has a four pack from Dona Paula with two bottles of Los Cardos Malbec and two bottles of Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon for only $30.99. Both these wines are easy drinking and you wouldn’t be ashamed to bring either one to a BBQ or games night. Costco also has a great selection of what it calls ‘vintages’. You can find these stacked in cute wooden crates in the centre of the store. Products change frequently, but there are some mainstays you can find at a great price point. They sell La Fiole du Pape for $35.99 and I know Liquor Depot has it for around $49.99.
Most Fun to Shop At
Who doesn’t want to have a great wine buying experience? If you have some time and want to get some great suggestions, and possibly samples, my two favourite places to shop are Highlander Wine and Spirits and Willow Park Wines and Spirits.
Highlander has four shops throughout Calgary. I frequently shop at the Seton location. They have a rewards program that gives you the most rewarding gift of all, free wine! Highlander staff are always willing to help you choose the perfect bottle for whatever occasion and they usually start the conversation asking what your budget is. This saves me from looking at that $69.99 bottle of Stackhouse Cab Sauv when – let’s face it, I can maybe afford the $29.99 bottle of Banfi. I have my kids’ education to think about now.
The other fun part about shopping at Highlander is their monthly six-pack they sell for $84.95. I know there are other stores that do this, but I like the experience of buying it at Highlander. They tend of have a good selection and great quality. Also, the staff can speak to each bottle, and are enthusiastic about the choices.
Best All Around Experience
If you buy wine in Calgary, you know Willow Park Wine and Spirits. It’s like the mecca in the city. It was an AGLC store before everything was privatized, so the square footage alone is enormous. Just like Highlander, they have knowledgeable staff that can direct you to your new favourite grape and there always seems to be someone in the store offering up samples. It’s like shopping at Costco, but instead of gyoza’s, you get gewürztraminer!
Willow Park plays host to great events as well, which adds to the fun experience at the store. There are in-store events, usually themed tastings with food as well as education classes to learn more about wine regions and even wine making.
Buying wine should always be fun. Being able to get a good deal is also important. There are plenty of great ways to find a deal in Calgary, from weekly liquor store flyers that every store has, to Costco Liquor. I love looking through the flyers and browsing around trying to find what I’m going to pick-up for the weekend – and weekday – bevies.