What Wines to buy at Trader Joe’s!
Buying wine can be overwhelming at times. With so many selections and not enough opportunity to taste or read about them all, it can feel like a daunting task to find wines that you love for reasonable prices. I am here to help. I have spent the last 15 plus years studying wine and tasting wines from all around the world. I am a certified Sommelier who has worked in and visited some of the best food and wine destinations in the world. However, I am not your usual wine snob. I am a parent on a budget. Though I know the top notch super fancy stuff, let’s face it, it’s just not what the majority of us drink on a day-to-day basis. Not even people in the industry sit around drinking $100 bottles of wine everyday, unless you’re getting a lot of it pro bono. If you are that’s awesome, I’m available for tastings anytime! Instead, I go to Trader Joe’s, a lot. I love Trader Joe’s, a lot. I am usually in a rush and also need to pick up some frozen pizza and organic chicken nuggets for my 8-year old. I can’t run to 5 different stores to find wine anymore, though I sometimes miss those luxurious days of having that kind of time on my hands. Instead, I’ve learned to take what I have and make it great and I’m here to share that with you. As a busy parent you definitely deserve some great wine too! The best part is that Trader Joe’s really does rock. Their wine department knows there are lots of people like you and me who need to find our food and wine in one trusted place. They understand the brilliance of saving time and money and they work hard to negotiate great deals with their big buying power. They offer some fantastic wine options at prices we all love and it’s what keeps them running a healthy business. The only problem is that some of the better selections may be things you’ve never heard of before and would pass right over. Their selection is large and there isn’t always an expert standing right there to help break it down for you, which higher end wine shops do offer. So let’s break it down in a way we can quickly understand and sort through.
When dealing with wine you usually start with lightest to heaviest in style and body, so that is how this list of recommendations is structured. Please feel free to jump right to your favorite type of wine on the list and skip over things you know you don’t love. One of the key points in helping people learn about wine is to first understand that enjoyment of wine is subjective! Everyone has a very different palate and that is completely ok! There are no right or wrong answers, though I do strongly recommend being adventurous. Always be willing to try something new!
Crisp Dry White Wines:
Hanna Sauvignon Blanc – Russian River Valley, Sonoma CA 2016 – $12.99
- Melon and apricot with fresh-cut grass intertwine on the nose of this crisp white that is long in flavor and minerality. With light to medium weight and texture, it offers a fresh yet mellow touch of acidity on the finish. Very well rounded with a pleasant mouth feel. This bottle typically averages around $18 from other retailers.
Bonterra Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2016– Mendocino CA 2016 $9.99
- Bright ripe grapefruit, Meyer lemon and green apple flavors join together with lovely floral aromas in this medium-bodied wine. Refreshing and delicious, this wine pairs well with a host of summer’s favorite foods. It’s 100% Organic as well. This wine usually retails for $14 at other stores.
On the slightly sweeter side:
Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/ Viognier 2016– Napa Valley CA $10.99
- When I worked in Napa Valley this was always one of our most popular summer wines! The price is great and the wine is delicious. It offers a great balance of honeyed citrus, spring flowers and ripe peach flavors all married with crisp acidity and lush texture. This wine works well with something slightly spicy or with seafood.
Vignobles Le Cheteau Vouvray 2015 – Loire Valley, France $7.99
- This is a personal favorite and part of the reason I wanted to write this list of recommendations! Vouvray from the Loire Valley is an excellent offering that I wish garnered more attention from wine drinkers in this area. It is Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France which is the ancestral home of this grape and it’s a fantastic find for $7.99! Jasmine and white flower aromas greet your nose followed by subtle tropical fruit flavors. The wine is off dry with an excellent, clean mineral finish.
Full Body Big Whites:
Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay 2015– Sonoma CA $19.99
- A reliable chardonnay from a trusted producer and a good price. Golden color with lovely balance showing apple and pear fruits. The wine has a nice medium body, laced with moderate acidity and finishes with subtle vanilla and butter notes.
Hess Select Chardonnay, Monterey County 2014 – 12.99
- Clean and mineral driven Chardonnay with great balance. Delicious apple and pear fruit with good acidity and a soft finish.
Les Portes de Bordeaux Rosé 2016 – Bordeaux France $5.99
- Nice pink elegant hue. Soft and pleasant bouquet with smooth flavors of fresh strawberries and cherries. Surprisingly enjoyable for the price.
Miraval Rosé 2016 – Provence France $19.99
- This wine is luscious and beautiful. Raspberry and rhubarb intertwine with full body, velvety texture and a long complex stone finish that brings this wine full circle. This winery is owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie so I was skeptical at first but after a few sips realized this wine is the real deal! This wine typically retails for $24.99 at other stores.
Lighter Body Reds:
Castle Rock Pinot Noir 2014 – Mendocino, CA 2014 $7.99
- One trick I often rely on a Sommelier is that when I see an up and coming Pinot Noir from Mendocino County, I give it a shot. Most of time they far exceed their price point and do not fail to impress. This is an area to watch for good Pinot Noir! This wine is medium body with scents of spice and earth. Ripe red berry and cherry cola come through as you are tasting. This wine is complex and bold as Pinot Noir goes with voluptuous texture and a nice hint of silky tannin on the finish.
Poppy Pinot Noir 2014 – Monterey County, CA 2014 $11.99
- This Pinot Noir offers great balance of acidity and flavor, with deep color that is characteristic of Central California Pinot Noir. Ripe red fruit brightens across the palate, picking up raspberry and spice and is balanced by the French toasted oak aromas. Soft and silky through the middle with a vibrant, juicy feel in the mouth.
Medium Body Reds:
Coppola Claret – Red Blend Napa Valley, CA 2015 $14.99
- This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc is medium bodied and easy drinking. It is smooth and fruit forward with flavors of berries, plum and anise. This wine successfully marries bold California fruit with an elegant European style.
Tertre du Moulin Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2015– Bordeaux, France $14.99
- This Red Blend, made mostly of Merlot, with Cabernet Sauvignon and just a little Cab Franc makes for a nice red blend. The wine is deep red-purple in your glass, with an intricate nose, weaving together fruity and spicy aromas. The round mouth feel combines the taste of dark currants and cherry jam flavors with subtle hints of spice.
Full Body Red:
Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 – Sonoma County, CA $19.99
- From its deep ruby hue to its fruit-forward aromas of blackberry, currant and black cherry, this wine does a good job showing what Sonoma Cab is all about. On the palate, the rich fruit is balanced by smooth tannins and picks up complexity with layers of spice, chocolate and hints of toasty French oak.
Girard Cabernet Sauvignon 2014- Napa Valley, CA $23.99
- Rich dark fruit notes on the nose intertwined with cocoa and vanilla bean. Baking spice aromas also blend with hints of cigar box. On the palate you’ll taste blackberry and cassis, mocha and a touch of leather. The finish of the Cabernet shows rich dark fruit and expressive tannins.