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5:45 p.m. Mon.-Sat.: Best Wine Finds in a Grocery Store 

Lunardi's Market

Even in an enlightened area such as the East Bay, grocery-store wine shelves are generally stocked with pretty routine stuff. There's your Mondavi, your Fetzer, your Gallo, some Chianti, a Rioja or two, the latest discount deal from Australia, and, of course, gobs and gobs of Merlot. Lunardi's Market in Walnut Creek has those, but its wine buyers are much more adventurous than many of those who work for the big chains. It's possible to pick up something red from France's Vacqueryras region, or a white from Jurançon to sip on before dinner. Even the wines from familiar places can be unusual, like the half-bottles of Champagne Gobillard Brut that were featured recently. The buyers also picked up a large stock of 1998 Cabernets from top-notch (and expensive) California producers and were able to sell them at huge discounts because wine writers had harshly, and often unjustly, maligned that vintage. Lunardi's also caters to folks with a sweet tooth, with a variety of Sauternes, Monbazillac, Vin Santo, and the like on the shelves.

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