The anticipation is building as Miami prepares for Trader Joe's first Miami-Dade store to open this Friday, October 18.
At 8 a.m., a ceremonial lei will be cut by the store's captain (AKA manager, to you landlubbers), Jodi McCullough, along with TJ's regional vice president Kent Smathers and Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner.
After that, it's time to shop! The store will welcome new customers with live music, giveaways, and food demonstrations throughout the day.
By now, you're wondering what to look out for at this island-themed grocery store that stocks both the mundane and the exotic. We suggest starting with these items and then just look around for temptations such as chocolate-covered potato chips and staples like inexpensive olive oil and sunscreen.
While you're at it, be sure to visit the beer and wine sections, where you'll find an array of brands you've likely never heard of. That's because Trader Joe's alcoholic selections are also mostly private-label brands. The good news is that most wines and beers are priced under $10, so you can experiment. Plus, if you don't like your selection, you can return it -- even after you've opened it (though it's seriously bad form to return a half-empty bottle).
Here are five wines and beers to look out for -- with a bonus for booze lovers.
Trader Joe-San's Sparkling Sake
It's Sunday and you're having a blowout brunch party at your house. Instead of the usual prosecco-and-OJ mimosas, give your guests a little Asian flair by pairing fresh lychee juice with this sparkling sake. It's only $6.49, so buy it by the case fu;l. After all, the holidays are coming.
Green Fin Organic Wine
Produced by the Bronco Wine Company, it's made in California. It's a slightly sweet blend, with hints of cherries. Best of all, it's completely organic and vegan. At $3.99, it's a good table wine to pair with a no-meat chili.
Trader José Dark
Trader José comes in light, lager, and dark and is brewed at Cervecería Mexicana in Tecate. The brewery, which makes several private-label brews, also produces Ed Hardy beer. Of the three Trader José varieties, we like the dark, which has a nutty sweetness. Close your eyes and you'd swear you're drinking Negra Modelo. At $7.99 per six-pack, it's worth checking out.
Oreana Happiness Syrah
Ever wondered what happiness would taste like if someone bottled it? Well, it would probably taste like this Syrah. Santa Barbara's Oreana Winery describes the experience as "a burst of tropical fruit flavors rain[ing] down on the tongue." Besides tasting great, it's the cheeriest bottle on the shelves. For $6.99 apiece, buy a few bottles and hand them out to friends. Way cheaper than therapy.
Two Buck Chuck
Charles Shaw wines, better known as Two Buck Chuck, are probably what you've been waiting for. Let us assure you that your anticipation has been justified. This wine is not only cheap but also drinkable. Trust us. We bought cases of it to stockpile, and we're just running out. Best varietals are the Cabernet, which has a rich blackberry finish with hints of mineral and earth, and the Pinot Grigio, which we've been drinking tons of on the patio. For $2.99, they can't be beat for an everyday wine for dinner or after work or girls' night in or movie night or lunch or breakfast...
Bonus for Booze Lovers:
Bloody Mary and Margarita Mix
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You know what's better than a regular bloody? One with clam juice. If you haven't had one, take that sour puss off your face and try it. Do you feel the salty kiss of the sea gently waking your sad, hungover self back to humanity? Trader Joe's mix also isn't too spicy, perfect for adding your favorite hot sauce for a customized cocktail.
We could call you a lazy bastard for not making a margarita from scratch, but sometimes when you're having a barbecue and there are 20 friends lined up for a cocktail, you've gotta turn to the mix. This one contains no artificial ingredients and actually tastes like lime instead of the toxic liquid normally mixed with tequila.