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A Taste Trust : * Wine discount store always checks for quality before buying the deals.

The folks at the Los Angeles Wine Co. trust their palates enough to discover un heard-of brands of wines. Owner Steve Bialek and his sister Nancy taste wines for quality before checking the wholesale price, an unusual procedure for wine discounters who usually just buy the deals.

Comparison-shopping wines can be difficult, since some discounters carry off-brands that cannot be found elsewhere. They often buy whatever is cheap, with little or no concern for quality.

That is not the case at the Los Angeles Wine Co., northeast of Marina del Rey, where there are excellent quality wines at discounted prices from France, Germany, Italy, Chile, Spain, Australia and, of course, the United States.

Some recent deals, per bottle:

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Among the champagnes, Moet & Chandon White Star, $16.95 (usually retailing at $28); Dom Perignon, $64.95 ($70); Korbel, $6.99 ($11.50) and Domaine Chandon, $8.99 ($16.50). The chardonnays include Meridian, $6.99 ($13); Kendall Jackson Vintners, $6.99 ($13); Grgich Hills, $17.95 ($24); Edna Valley, $8.99 ($15) and Sonoma-Cutrer, $10.95 ($16). Other wines include Clos du Bois Merlot, $9.95 ($12); Jordan Cabernet, $18.95 ($24) and Santa MargheritaPinot Grigio, $11.95 ($18).

In the wine industry, the term kitchen-sink reds refers to a generic blend of varietals. Two exceptional finds in this category, both California wines, are Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red for $4.99 and, from the Sean Thackrey winery, ’92 Pleiades, which consists of all old vines (20 to 80 years old), 70% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre (varieties grown in the French Rhone area). Price is $11.95.

If you’re an oenophile, you’ll find many wines here to your liking or, if you think you have an untrained palate, tell the folks at Los Angeles Wine Co. what you like and let them run with it.

The Bialeks and their staff are experts and are happy to inform their customers of the intricacies of the world of wines. They are proud that they are now the largest single-store purveyor of fine wines in California, a fact they gleaned from their suppliers who, mindful of the volume business that Los Angeles Wine Co. generates, come to the Bialeks first with their best deals on close-outs or new releases.

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According to Steve Bialek, the company stands behind the quality of every product it sells and if for any reason a customer is not happy with a purchase, “we will gladly refund, replace or exchange it.”

Because they always negotiate for large quantities when buying, the Bialeks do not special-order, and they do not hold regular sales.

Geri Cook’s Bargains column runs every Friday in Valley Life! Geri Cook can be heard from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays on KIEV 870-AM.

WHERE TO SHOP

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What: The Los Angeles Wine Co., 4935 McConnell Ave., No. 8, Los Angeles.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Cards: MasterCard, Visa.

Call: (310) 306-9463.

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