Walmart Goes Upscale on ‘Two-Buck Chuck’ Playbook With $10 Wines

Walmart Inc. is going upscale with its wine offerings -- all the way up to $10.

The world’s largest retailer is expanding its three-year-old Winemakers Selection range with five new “premium” varieties: an Argentinian malbec, an Italian pinot grigio, a French rose, a California cabernet sauvignon and a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. The new, so-called “Reserve Series” bottles carry a suggested price that’s double the $5 everyday wines it started selling in 2018.

The move is Walmart’s latest stab at capturing more finicky drinkers and getting penny-pinching shoppers to spend a bit more. The retailer, whose wine sales rose by more than 10% last year, has added more high-end alcohol to its shelves recently, including brands like Buffalo Trace whiskey and Veuve Clicquot Champagne. Walmart sells about 100 types of wine in more than 3,900 of its U.S. stores, and online where regulations allow it.

Walmart Goes Upscale on ‘Two-Buck Chuck’ Playbook With $10 Wines

Grocery retailers of all stripes are beefing up their booze offerings, with some even remodeling stores to sell craft beers on tap and do in-store wine tastings. Walmart rival Target Corp. began selling a line of $5 wines in 2017 and more recently added adult beverages for curbside pickup or home delivery from hundreds of stores.

Measured by volume, U.S. alcohol consumption increased by 2% last year, according to researcher IWSR -- the biggest annual jump since 2002. That’s expected to accelerate even more in 2021, with a predicted rise of 3.8%, IWSR found. Wine, though, is not growing as fast as spirits or ready-to-drink canned concoctions like hard seltzers.

The model of success for supermarket wine is Charles Shaw, an inexpensive label available at Trader Joe’s that’s nicknamed “Two-Buck Chuck.” That brand sold hundreds of millions of bottles and even won awards when it appeared at the retailer in 2002. Walmart’s latest launch is only sold in its stores and on its website.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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