Trader Joe's is one of my favorite resources for everyday wines. Good, inexpensive wines are hard not to love. But I never would have guessed that professional wine experts would share my affinity for the offerings at the grocery chain. Turns out, though, sommeliers and winemakers from all around the country love dear ol' TJ's just as much as I do.
I spoke with four sommeliers and one winemaker to get their suggestions for the absolute best bottles of wine you can pull from the shelves. While one may be considered a splurge by Trader Joe's standards at $24.99 (although I'd say it's worth it since it's a special occasion-worthy bottle that can age for years), the rest are as wallet-friendly as you'd expect — there's even a pizza-friendly wine for as little at $4.99.
Take a look and keep this list handy for your next Trader Joe's run.
Josh Phelps, founder of Grounded Wine Company in Saint Helena, California
- Laurent Reverdy Sancerre, France, $13: "Sancerre (from the Loire Valley in France) is usually my go-to for a light, crisp white. This is French Sauvignon Blanc. It's a nice expression for the price — bright grapefruit on the nose. Meyer lemon and great acid. I love acid. This wine is easy and refreshing."
- Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais, France, $7: "This is essentially a simple Pinot Noir. For $7 this does not disappoint. Bright strawberry and red cherry. Nice acid and structure. It would be easy to drink the whole bottle."
- Villa Cerrina Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, Italy, $5: "Abruzzo in central Italy is the Italian region for value wines. Balanced and fresh, this is a great pizza wine. For $5 it would be hard to find something better."
Daphne Stratta, Sommelier at Steadfast in Chicago
- Trader Joe's Reserve North Coast Brut Rosé, California, $10: "This sparkling rosé mimics those of Champagne, being a blend of the traditional grapes, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. Utilizing these grapes and also the method in which Champagne is made in France, Méthode Champenoise, gives this wine many layers of complexity. This delicious bubbly can be described as bright and balanced, with flavors of fresh strawberries and toasted brioche."
- Caretaker Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley, California, $10: "This wine shows a true expression of California Pinot Noir, presenting flavors of fresh red cherry and macerated strawberry, with touches of clove and nutmeg. The palate shows light body with well-balanced acidity, and light tannins. Not only is this Pinot Noir a great everyday wine, but it also pairs wonderfully with delicate fish and chicken dishes."
- Bois de Menge Gigondas, France, $14: "Bois de Menge Gigondas is a blend of 75 percent Grenache and 25 percent Syrah, presenting flavors of cherry and tobacco with velvety tannins. Robert Parker of Wine Advocate gives this wine 90 points, and for a mere $14 it does not disappoint."
Sterling Knight, Sommelier at Cindy's in Chicago
- Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine, California, $13: "I mean no-brainer here! Méthode Champenoise bubbles from Sonoma at $13. That's enough reason to celebrate on its own!"
- La Ferme Julien Rosé, France, $8: "J'adore this pale pink-hued beauty! It's everything you want in a rose, easy drinking and versatile. Pair with a shellfish platter, seared scallops, crudités, or your favorite pair of sunglasses and picnic blanket."
- Familia Nueva Vineyards "Liberte" Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $10: "Beautifully rich and full of elegance. For that 'treat your self' dinner companion paired beautifully with steak au poive, braised lamb shank, and roasted vegetables."
- Blason de Bourgogne Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay, France, $8: Bill recommends this for those who like their Chardonnay crisp and unoaked. It's got a lot of acidity and minerality with lemon, lime, and clementine notes.
- Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc, California, $10: This refreshing warm-weather wine is one of Bill's favorites because the extra-bright tropical and citrus notes are more than what you'd usually get for a Sauvignon Blanc at this price.
- Epicuro Aglianico Beneventano, Italy, $6: The smooth, silky texture of this medium-bodied wine is what makes it one of Bill's picks. It's full of juicy red fruit with just a touch of cinnamon and clove.
Mark Maruszak, Sommelier at Benny's Chop House in Chicago
- Reserve des Chastelles Tavel Rosé, France, $9: "I'm in love with Tavel, a tiny sub-region located in the Southern Rhone of France. This region is known for its world-class, dry rosés produced from Grenache. Fresh and fruit forward, this is perfect for the upcoming days on the patio."
- Le Fiarre du Pape Châteauneuf du-Pape, France, $20: "This big red is from France's Southern Rhone region, which goes back hundreds of years and takes its name from the summer palace, or castle, built to host the Pope(s) during the 1400s. This red blend of grapes offers the fruit forward nature of Grenache, while the Syrah adds spice, and the Mouvedre helps bring overall structure to the wine. Fantastic with grilled meats!"
- Fabiano Amarone della Valpolicella, Italy, $25: "From one of the most prized regions of all of Italy, this red is also a blend of grapes, with the primary one being the indigenous Corvina. The hand of the winemaker is more important here than the underlying grapes, however. After harvesting, the grapes for this bottle of wine are allowed to dry on mats, allowing for concentration of flavor. Once the drying is complete, the grapes are fermented, producing a full-bodied, complex, and thrilling wine. This can age for years due to the high levels of alcohol and tannin — this is truly a meat-lover's wine!"
What are your favorite wines to get at Trader Joe's?