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Food & Drink

San Francisco’s new $3 wine: We tried the ‘delicious Cabernet’ cure for rising inflation

Inside San Francisco's new Total Wine & More store. | Source: Eddie Sun/The Standard

A cavernous new Total Wine & More opened Thursday in San Francisco, replete with near-endless booze choices, wine tasting rooms and a 7-foot-tall security fence around its parking lot.

The Harrison Street store on the edge of the SoMa offers a tipple for every shopper’s budget. A discount section offers bottles for under $6, while pricey items are locked behind glass doors––like a $700 bottle of a 2011 Casa Ferreirinha.

Beyond the bargain section lies the ultra-cheap wine, priced at just $2.97—plus 26 cents in tax—Hectare’s cabernet sauvignon promises to be “a lifetime told, in 10,000 square metres.” Hectare also comes in chardonnay and merlot varieties. The label announces the wine is “American” and boasts each glass contains excellence derived from numerous influences. We’ll see about that.

Priced at around $3 at the new Total Wine & More store—is this San Francisco's cheapest wine? | Source: Eddie Sun/The Standard

The roughly $3 price tag was simply too tempting for The Standard to pass up, given rising inflation, San Francisco’s infamous rental market and our thirst for a bargain (we like expensive things, too). Not to mention its 3.3 out of 5 score on wine ratings website Vivino, which lists the cab’s average price as $8.93 per bottle. 

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But how does the $3 wine taste? The Standard poured a few glasses of excellence to find out.

Reviews from newsroom staff ranged from slightly displeased to repulsed with the wine’s taste, though an editor said the cabernet sauvignon was “all right, not bad.” Another editor said, “After a second sip, maybe it doesn’t taste so bad after all.”

"That’s definitely $3 wine,” one person from the video team said.

Total Wine shoppers The Standard spoke with on Friday were excited about the store opening.

Wine on display inside San Francisco's new Total Wine & More store. | Source: Eddie Sun/The Standard

Along with aisles of wine from across the globe, the store also stocks beer, liquor, pre-mixed cocktails, mixers and snacks on its shelves. In anticipation of fall, the Total Wine & More also has seasonal items, like a pumpkin spice-flavored Irish cream. 

Leandra Dillon and Maurice Shepard, a couple living nearby, said they drove by the store every day in anticipation of the opening. They visited during opening day on Thursday and came back to buy some of the store’s quirkier drinks. Dillon was particularly interested in Ole Smoky Distillery’s white chocolate strawberry moonshine.

Dillon and Shepard said Total Wine & More’s prices were cheaper than those of the liquor stores and markets around the area, including the neighboring Costco.

Representatives with Total Wine & More did not respond to requests for comment.