Exclusive offer: 7/15/2022 – Shopping by labels is AOK (as long as the wine is excellent too)

This offer is available from Friday, July 15th at 3:00 pm to Sunday, July 17th at 3:00 pm.

If the offer is still on, you’ll see the order form at the bottom of this page. Completed forms are sent to Solo Vino Wine Shop in St. Paul, MN, for final fulfillment (shipping is available).

Do you have friends that would be interested in our Friday Exclusive Offers? Forward this page to them and tell them to sign up for our newsletter!

It’s perfectly okay to shop by the label

During my years in the wholesale business, I was shocked by how often the topic came up. I worked with fine wine distributors, the type that sells the greatest of the greatest wines across all price ranges. At the Friday sales meeting, the reps that sold mostly to retailers might bring up a particular wine and comment, “The only reason it sells is because of the label” and then sneer and spit about how unfair that is.

And internally, I would be screaming, OF COURSE IT’S BECAUSE OF THE LABEL, AND THAT’S OKAY! Because in the end, as you’ve heard me say time and time again, if the wine gives the consumer happiness in the end, then the wine has done its job.

Another reason this is close to my heart is that I’m married to an artist and graphic designer. So much about Angela’s existence is about visual pleasure. The colors, the patterns, the thought that goes into good design. We can be walking down some random street in some random city, and she finds the beauty in the color of the concrete. Seriously.

I think most wine retailers do a HORRIBLE job of conveying wine information to the consumer outside of maybe having someone on the floor to answer questions. Every retailer in the country has the time and opportunity to hand write a little card to attach to the shelf to say why they love that particular wine. I’m not talking about the pre-made shelf talkers that most wineries and wholesalers create and provide. (Too many of those on the shelf show how lazy that particular retailer is, conveying an attitude that the sales reps are in charge of selling their product.) I’m talking about something handmade that says, “this is why we chose this wine …” with a name on the bottom of someone who works there.

So if you’re a consumer who wants to buy some wine and spend some money, and you’re in a wine store that doesn’t convey any info at all, what more do you have to go on? Nothing other than the label.

So here’s my proclamation to you as the end consumer (i.e. the only one who really matters in the end): you have the permission of the wine gods to shop for your wine based on the label alone. There is no shame in that.

But what makes the choice of a wine based on the label even better? When you crack the bottle, pour the glass, and the wine is AWESOME!

Check out these cute as-can-be labels!

I hesitate to let the world know this, but we have a thing for flamingoes. (Please, no flamingo gifts … we have more than enough stuff!)

We think they are hilarious animals, unlike anything else out there. And last year, after doing a huge backyard renovation and installing a hot tub, we christened the backyard “The Flamingo Club.” Angela even made a logo for us.

This is Thurston and Lovey, a couple of our flamingos at The Flamingo Club
I found this cast iron flamingo at a little shop on Anna Maria Island in Florida

So when I spotted this new wine at a local wholesaler’s warehouse, I HAD to bring it home to enjoy at The Flamingo Club.

And guess what? These wines are AWESOME.

Some info on Pinot Grigio

Here’s the truth: most Italian Pinot Grigios that you see on the shelves underperform in the glass. But it’s hard to know that unless you have three or four open at once, all in front of you, ready to taste. Why is this so? A combination of two reasons.

1: Pinot Grigio/Gris can easily be pushed on the crop load. It’s already an abundantly-producing variety to begin with, but throw a little Miracle-Gro on those vines, and suddenly you’re up to ten tons per acre. At a certain point, a higher crop load makes for thinner and more forgettable wine, which happens with most Pinot Grigio because of the next point.

2: Americans LOVE their Pinot Grigio. We seem to have an unsatiable thirst for the stuff. Italians generally don’t drink much of it (they focus more on Pinot Bianco). The mega-brand Santa Margharita proved that Americans will pay $20+ for a bottle of it. So for many brands, it’s all about the questions of how much volume we can make and how much we can get away with charging for it. Quality is an afterthought.

Learn more about Pinot Grigio on this excellent page at WineSearcher.

Spasso Pinot Grigio

This wine is outstanding. The best part? It doesn’t suffer from “the donut.”

When wine people talk about “the donut,” it’s referring to a hole in the middle of the flavor profile. This is something MANY Pinot Grigios suffer from. They enter the taste with a wallop of flavor and acidity. They finish with great flavor and acidity. But in-between, the flavor sort of disappears.

Sassy aromas of lemon curd and flowers meet a generous dose of apple and pear. The aromas spring forth from the glass with layers of detail (something rarely found in Pinot Grigio). The mouthfeel is so complete, so round, and so bright. It’s the best under $15 Pinot Grigio I’ve had this year, no questions asked.

And that LABEL!!

A lesson on Montepulciano

Here’s a super quick Italian wine lesson: when you see d’ or “de” or “dei” that means “of” or “from,” which then makes it easy to figure out what is going on.

So Barbera d’Asti is the Barbera grape from the Asti region in Piedmont.

And Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is the Montepulciano grape from the Abruzzi region (east-central Italy).

This gets confusing for many people because there is a town called Montepulciano in Tuscany, which makes a wine called Vino Nobile de Montepulciano (“the noble wine of Montepulciano”), which is mostly made out of Sangiovese.

As a grape, I like to describe Montepulciano as “God’s pizza wine” because of a quality few grapes have: it enhances the flavor of the dish it is served with, rather than trying to steal the spotlight.

There is nothing wrong with stealing the spotlight. Most Pinot Noirs and Cabernets are excellent at doing that, and it’s a big part of wine enjoyment.

But sometimes, I want to crack the bottle, pour the glass, and say, “Wow, that pizza tastes even better with that wine!”

Learn more about Montepulciano.

Spasso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Like Pinot Grigio, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo often suffers from overproduction and a race to the bottom on price, resulting in lower quality that is never questioned because you don’t have four or five Montepulcianos in front of you at the same time.

So trust me when we say this is OUTSTANDING Montepulciano!

It’s packed with all the dark cherry goodness I look for in this grape. A wonderful Montepulciano should be black cherry meets clove spice and raspberry. The tannins are low, and the acids are high. The flavor enhances the dish in front of you, kinda like a light sprinkle of salt.


With only two wines in this week’s offer, you know what I’m going to say: buy them both and stock up a bit. The price we are able to offer them at is exceptional and based on the quantity we expect to go through. The regular price is accurate; the sale price is outstanding.

In terms of serving, toss BOTH in the refrigerator during the summer and chill them down. I love a chilled glass of Montepulciano with a grilled hamburger. There is nothing better on a summer evening. Oh, is it time for seafood? Grab the Pinot Grigio.

Both of these wines are relatively new to the Minnesota market, and you can indeed find them around town at other stores.

You’ll also be able to buy them throughout the year, so don’t feel that you need to stock up in some gigantic way (though I think you’ll be hard pressed to find this price again).

However, buying them through this offer gives you the best price you’ll find, supports Twin Cities Wine Education, and supports Solo Vino.

Thank you, everyone! Please spread the word about our Friday offers!

Jason Kallsen
Sommelier, founder of Twin Cities Wine Education

This offer has closed. Thank you for your interest.

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