Feb 26

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How Lucky is this Duck?

On a recent trip to Iowa, we stopped at a Walmart. (No, it wasn’t my idea.) Since our home state of Minnesota only allows wine sales in separate wine and liquor stores, the idea of Walmart selling wine was somewhat of a novelty to us. The selection was rather limited compared to what we were accustomed to, and we noticed that the wines were generally under $15, with a significant number of wines available for under $10. We ended up buying a few wines sold under the Lucky Duck label. These wines were selling for $4 a bottle, and we were very curious as to how good (or bad) a $4 wine would be.

As far as I can tell, Lucky Duck is sold only at Walmart. Due to state laws here in Minnesota, wine cannot be sold in Walmart, and I haven’t seen any Walmart stores with a separate wine and liquor store (which is the approach that some grocery stores take to be able to sell alcohol). Also, the two closest Walmart stores are located in communities where the city owns the only wine and liquor stores, which would prohibit Walmart (or any other grocery store) from opening a separate wine shop.

Is this wine any good? For $4 a bottle, I’m not expecting much, but I’m hoping it is drinkable.


The first wine I’m trying is the Shiraz from South Eastern Australia. We picked this one because we like Australian Shiraz. Even the cheap brands are drinkable, even if they aren’t very interesting.

At first, I got a strong anise smell and flavor. I decanted the wine, and this has subsided. Now, I’m getting some dark fruits and spice on the nose. There’s some fruit on the palate, along with a lot of spice. There’s good acidity and tannins on the finish. It’s actually very well balanced. I’m impressed.

This is definitely a decent Shiraz, especially for the price. It didn’t seem quite “right” out of the bottle, but it definitely improves if you let it open up.

This wine gets a “Good” rating.

Sauvignon Blanc

The next wine is the Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. Since I like Chilean wines, this seemed like a good choice.

The nose is very fragrant, with citrus and tropical fruits dominating. The palate, however, doesn’t quite live up to what the nose promises.  There’s some fruit at the start, and I get a bit of some hints of vegetable or grass flavors. The balance is good. It’s a very decent wine, especially considering the price.

This wine also gets a “Good” rating.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The last bottle is the Cabernet Sauvignon, which is also from Chile.

There’s some red fruits and a bit of floral on the nose. I get similar flavors on the palate, with some dark berries. There’s a bit of spice mid-palate and some oak on the finish. There’s some good structure from the tannins, and the acidity is balanced well. It isn’t a very complex wine, but there isn’t really anything “wrong” with the wine, either. It is fairly typical of some of the other low-end Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon wines I’ve had. It definitely benefits from decanting.

This wine gets a “Very Good” rating.

All three of these wines are decent, drinkable wines. While they aren’t very complex, they are all balanced. (I find that the lack of balance is typically what gets a wine poured down the drain.) You shouldn’t expect anything spectacular from these wines, but for $4 for a bottle, Lucky Duck is really an excellent value. If I could get these locally, I’d buy them on a fairly regular basis for our everyday wines. Unfortunately, Minnesota state law prohibits grocery stores (including Walmart) from selling any alcohol over 3.2% ABW. While some grocery stores open separate wine and liquor stores to circumvent this restriction, Walmart does not do this, probably because they don’t sell enough alcohol to justify the expense of setting up and operating a separate store. I’ll have to stock up the next time I’m in another state!

If you’re lucky enough to be near a Walmart that sells wine, I encourage you to try the Lucky Duck wines.

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