Trader Joe’s really does rock, especially their wines.
I shop the Trader Joe's wine section at least once a week, they have some great wines at prices you can't help but get excited about!
Truth is, I have my favorites and rarely do I try anything new. Yes, it can be tempting but then again feels complicated when assessing the risk versus actual success rate. I can't take the chance of having to watch whichever show I am currently binging with an undrinkable glass of wine.
No thank you, pass.
Yes, I've googled - "Which wines to buy at Trader Joe's" but never been impressed with the results. It's just a bunch of blogs throwing out a looooong list of options paired with a list of tasting notes, all from wines I've never even heard of let alone tried before.
I mean, what am I suppose to do with a list like that?
Start at the top, buying and tasting them one by one?
Isn't that the same thing as the tasting notes that sit just below the bottles at the store that read "Ryans' Pick of the Week" - Yup, thanks but no thanks.
Here’s my point— I am a problem solver, and this so-called problem needed a solution.
I reached out to Hillary, a Sommelier and colleague of mine here in Napa Valley to find out which wines she's drinking lately from Trader Joe's.
HA! Am I that naïve to assume everyone drinks wine from Trader Joe's?
Yes, yes I am.
Here's the kicker though, not only is Hillary not familiar with the wine aisle at Trader Joe's, she's never actually been to one.
Oh this is going to be good, I thought.
I actually know a Sommelier, whom I consider to be the ultimate expert and wine educator out of anyone I know - I wonder if she’d be up for “a challenge”?
For those who have tasted with Hillary know she is a saint when it comes to her patience with us non-experts. She tastes with you and guides the conversation using a language I (or we) can actually understand.
I challenged Hillary to a $50 allowance to go cruise the wine selection at Trader Joe's, ultimately picking out at least 4 wines that we would then taste together.
"At the end of the day, wine is about what you [the consumer] likes. My job is to figure out what that is and then help find the wines to buy whether I like them or not. It's what, as a sommelier, I should be able to do, no matter the price or where the wines are coming from.” - Hillary Cole, Sommelier
THE RESULTS ARE IN.
Fior di Vino DOCG Chianti Classico Riserva, $6.99
The most commonly consumed Italian wine in the world it's no surprise that this wine made it into the cart and it did not disappoint. Pairs exceptionally with pizza and pasta. Plus, given the rules by which a winery must abide to label their wines as such, these are can be pricey wines to make so for that sticker price you cannot help but walk away happy.
"It neither offends nor dazzles and for $6.99 with this level of balance and structure, I'll take it."
"Would Buy Again"
Poppy Pinot Noir, Monterey County, $10.99
A light pinot noir that, for me, took a minute to appreciate. Tasted dry and earthy, I guess. This was one of the wines I have had before, I didn't think much of it then or now, good or bad, however Hilary wasn't as understanding.
"I can see where they were going here. It's not my style... I want pinot to be pretty, elegant and acidic but again I see where they were going. I do think there are other wines at TJ's for the same price or less that would deliver better value [for me]."
"Would NOT Buy Again"
Pontificis – Languedoc Red GSM, $6.99
A classic red wine blend from the southern Rhone Valley in France. Fresh out of the bottle there is absolutely a lot of flavor and acidity. A combination of rich fruitiness from the Grenache, some spicy notes coming from the Syrah and darker fruit flavors and structure from the Mourvedre.
"Pop it with some friends, pour it immediately and enjoy it fresh... this one I learned has to be drunk right now"
"WOULD BUY AGAIN... as long as I've got a crew to enjoy it with (right away)!"
Tertre du Moulin Saint-Émilion Grand cru, $15.99
Another Red Blend, per usual when it comes to Bordeaux wines. Made mostly of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a little Cab Franc. A solid, entry level
St. Emilion with great structure, flavor profile, honestly for this price, it's a win, win.
"A great way to enjoy a little Bordeaux without needing to be this extravagant experience, decanting it and all the production. You get the St. Emilion structure and flavor at a killer price!"
"WOULD BUY AGAIN”
There you have it, folks.
FOUR wines, FIFTY bucks.
Now it's your turn.
Are you ready to try these wines at-home? I highly recommend doing so either as an
at-home tasting of all 4 or one at a time. Whatever your plans may be, put it in your bucket list of things to do in 2021, it's the perfect excuse to wine taste right from home.
Let me know your thoughts, which wines YOU liked, loved and would buy again. Plus, any of your Trader Joe favorites you'd recommend.