The $5 “House Wine” I Have in My Fridge All Summer Long

published Jul 27, 2021
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Some people have stashes of chips and dips they always keep around for guests, but me? I have my house wine, a welcome wagon offering to friends and family who visit my home. 

House wines are something you’d normally find on a restaurant menu. These bottles are often inexpensive and intended to appeal to a variety of customers and also pair well with multiple dishes. Besides the fact that they’re usually a great value, I love house wines at restaurants because they help alleviate choice when you’re staring at a wine list with unfamiliar grapes and tasting notes. Because honestly, how many people can recall what a plum smells like?

Choosing a bottle of wine shouldn’t come with a side of decision fatigue. When you’re at a restaurant, your server can guide you through the “light and bright whites,” but when you’re at Costco, you’re on your own. Taste testing new wines is a great wine 101 lesson, but it’s not so great when all you want is a reliable and crowd-pleasing bottle for the picnic you’re running late to or the house guest that will be over in 15 minutes. In these cases, you need a house wine: an affordable, gluggable bottle of wine that you always have at home. You might not pull it out for big celebrations or special occasions, but it’s perfect for the day-to-day life moments in between.

Just like at a restaurant, a house wine is supposed to make your life a little easier. Instead of taking a gamble on something you haven’t tried and might hate, a house wine lets you sit back, pour a glass, and enjoy the experience by yourself or with others. You have enough choices to make in a day: Wine doesn’t have to be one of them. 

Choosing a house wine is as easy as opening a screw cap, but there are a few principles to keep in mind. Your go-to wine should be accessible, meaning it has to be the type of wine you can pick up at a local grocery store or wine shop. Second, your house wine should be affordable for you, because when you see your bottle in the store, it’s a smart idea to stock up. Also, this wine should be versatile. It should be something you’d pour while watching TV in sweats or hosting a small dinner party for friends. Finally, your house wine should be something that you enjoy drinking. Don’t choose a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon when you like Pinot Grigio. This is your house wine, and you should drink whatever you please. 

My Personal House Wine: Espiral Vinho Verde from Trader Joe’s

I discovered my house wine while looking for an under-$10 bottle at Trader Joe’s that wouldn’t break my grocery budget as a broke recent grad. It’s the Espiral Vinho Verde, a crisp and slightly effervescent white wine from Portugal that tastes like green apples and an adult lemon-lime soda. The wine reminded me of the light-bodied and easy-drinking Rieslings and Pinot Grigios that I already enjoyed drinking, but with a fun name (literal translation: “green wine” in Portugese), with the added bonus of fizz. It’s a vacation in a bottle. 

This Vinho Verde is as refreshing as a can of hard seltzer or a glass of rosé. And for only $4.49 a bottle, it’s perfect for every hot-weather hang and a good accompaniment to barbecue, sushi, fish tacos, and summer salads. But because I live in Los Angeles, I drink it year-round. A minimum of three bottles are in my fridge at all times, because you never know when an impromptu small gathering is in order. 

Apparently I’m not the only one who enjoys this wine. About a month ago, I was making my weekly pilgrimage to Trader Joe’s to fill my cart with Mandarin orange chicken and my house wine, when I saw an empty row behind the “Espiral Vinho Verde” tag.  

I guess my house wine is someone else’s too. 

Do you have a house wine? Let us know in the comments!