Distilled: Boozing it up in the supermarket

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From the April 25, 2013 edition

It’s an odd trend, but the supermarket has become a new place to drink. Giant Eagle’s Market District, the uber supermarket in Upper Arlington, has weekly wine and/or beer tastings, as does the Whole Foods in Dublin, where there’s also a bar inside the store.

I first experienced the Market District tastings on Friday evenings from the perspective of an outsider — just an average grocery shopper. Navigating through the crowd of sippers might have been a slight inconvenience, but I was mostly jealous.

So I decided to participate in a bit of Aisle 12 imbibing at the Market District. It was a mostly pleasant experience with some failings, but the people watching (and eavesdropping) more than made up for the negatives.

Last Friday’s wine tasting was a typical sort, offering six wine and food samples for the low, low price of $6. The pours were kindly robust, so by the end it was around two to three glasses. The small bites were also pretty delicious. You could even get a wood wine glass holder to place in your cart if you decided to do a little shopping. They say you should never shop hungry, but what about tipsy?

The only drawback was waiting in the long lines, even if they moved fairly quickly. But this was more of a problem exclusive to me — the (weird) guy by himself among couples and girlfriends chatting between stations.

Since I had no one to hang out with, I decided to snoop — and that was awesome! I particularly enjoyed “wine guy” who was trying to impress — his very unimpressed — date with all the nuances and notes of each wine. By far my favorite was the middle-aged mother, dressed in pink “Juicy” sweatpants, lugging a suitcase of Natural Light and scolding her daughter for “not acting her age.” Oh irony.

It’s kind of strange, but I would say the supermarket has become a good happy hour destination. With cheap drinks, a little snack and some wonderful, um, ambiance, what more do you need?