This article on the Best Trader Joe’s wine to try in 2016 is part of our value series of wine reviews and recommendations. Below, you’ll find our top picks for TJ’s wine this year, and you can also click through some of the links so see more in-depth reviews for certain wines we can’t stop talking about.
The Best Trader Joe’s Wines and Wine Deals to Sample This Year
We came to the following conclusions based on a few different factors. The number one factor taken into consideration is the actual quality of the wine overall themselves. Quality and value was determined based on appearance of grape variety and year, condition of the nose, body by grape variety or blend, palate consistency, intensity, finish and price point. While we discuss the best value wines first, scroll further on down in the article if you have a little extra money to spare and want to see recommendations on more expensive wines you can also find at Trader Joe’s. Note that the prices we mention below do tend to vary very slightly dependent on local market.
Sphere Monterey County California Pinot Noir
Pair With: Grilled Swordfish or Teriyaki Chicken or Salmon
The Sphere Pinot Noir is a relatively new arrival to Trader Joe’s and has already become somewhat of a hint. That’s because it’s not only difficult finding good quality New World Pinot Noir, it’s difficult finding it at an affordable price point. Not only is the Sphere Pinot a great tasting wine, it’s available for under $7. Pinot Noir is a difficult grape to grow, which is why it’s often priced so high.
In the glass, we get a nice somewhat translucent hue of ruby. The nose gives off fresh aromas of black currant, cherry and freshly picked plums. The palate is light-medium bodied with medium acidity and refreshing notes of juicy black cherry, strawberry, red currant, raspberry-vanilla and blackberry undertones. A nice balance across the palate followed by a medium-finish will make you want to stock up on this bad boy. I’m considering buying a case on my next visit to TJ’s.
Top Medium-bodied Red Wine at Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s Grower’s Reserve Merlot
Price: $4.99 – $5.99
Pair With: Penne and Chicken in Vodka Sauce
Believe it or not, the best red wine in the medium-bodied category actually falls under Trader Joe’s own label. You heard that correctly. The Trader Joe’s Grower’s Reserve Merlot is such an awesome value that picking it was a no brainer. Did I mention it’s organic? Given its relative youth, allow the 2014 vintage to open up and soften the acid in a self-aerating wine glass (use code WINEDERLUST for 10% off) or decanter for about 15-20 minutes. Chill to about 61 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the glass, we see a dominant ruby color with some purple around the rim and medium viscosity. The nose shows dominant hints of red fruits. On the opening palate, this medium-bodied red maintains medium-plus acidity and which balanced out by a silky tannin structure and bits of raspberry jam, red cherry and blackberry vanilla cola. Overall, a solid balance with a medium finish. This is another winner from TJ’s that will keep company happy and won’t cost you a lot of money if you’re throwing a party.
Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon
Pair With: Grilled Barbecue Brisket or Candied Bacon Bison Burger (and burn some pine tree smelling candles on the side)
We’ve covered the Dark Horse Cabernet before, but year after year we keep coming back to it. It’s remarkably consistent despite the vintage, and maintains the full-bodied flavor that a New World Cabernet Sauvignon should have. Are there better Cab’s out there? Of course. But given the price point (which is why you’re probably shopping at TJ’s in the first place for wine), this baby is hard to beat.
In the glass, this wine is of a dark ruby and purple hue with no translucency. The nose maintains smoky black and red fruit aromas with undertones of Christmas tree. On the opening palate, we get fresh blackberry, plum, black cherry and red currant with hints of spice box. As the wine caresses your taste buds, evidence of moist violet, vanilla cola and yumberry brûlée shows itself backed by hints of french roast coffee. The wine is well balanced with a medium-long finish.
Take a look at our complete review of the Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon here.
Villa Borghetti Pinot Grigio della Venezie
Pair With: Raw Oysters, Crab Cakes or Pan-seared Tilapia
We’re switching gears over to the whites now. This particular category actually has a few solid options at great price points, so it was a bit difficult to narrow this down. That being said, we’ll list a few other great light-bodied dry white wines at the bottom of this article if you’d like to try a few others for yourself. For now… onto the Villa Borghetti Pinot!
This is a great expression of an Italian Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy. While Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris is classically known to be a more neutral, light-bodied white, this particular version remains neutral yet still packs a good amount of flavor.
In the glass, the youth of this wine shines through with a clear, pale straw-golden and green hue. It’s neutral aromatics give off hints of pear, tangarine, grapefruit and melon. On the palate, a light-body and medium acidity give way to white peach and soft floral tones. As the palate progresses, we get additional hints of stone, citrus and even mild touches of tropical fruit. The grapefruit, melon, tangerine and lime-peel evident in this wine works well over a good balance. Honestly, for the price, this is one of the best light-bodied dry whites you’re going to find at Trader Joe’s.
Want to try another great light-bodied white? Pickup Trader Joe’s Grower’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc as well.
Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier White Wine Blend
Pair With: Grilled Cilantro Lime Snapper or Grouper
Quite possibly my favorite style of white wine, this was an easy choice for us. The Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier blend captures the true essence of California through two varietals that meld beautifully together. This is an un-oaked, aromatic blend. In the glass, it’s clear and straw gold in color with a slight touch of lime peel indicating relative youth. The perfume-esque qualities of the Viognier shine through on the nose with hints of key-lime, daisies and melon. Comprised of a carefully concocted intermingling of 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Viognier, this blend exhibits medium everything across the palate. Medium in body and finish, medium acidity and backed by refreshing stone and citrus fruit notes, this wine is truly a crowd pleaser. I’ve yet to hear one bad thing about it from everyone I’ve served it to.
Want to learn more about this fantastic white wine? Read our full review of the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc here.
La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Pair With: Italian Chicken Francese and Ricotta Rigatoni
If you want to drink a reliable and flavorful Full-bodied white wine from Trader Joe’s you’re going to need to step up your price point — slightly. The La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay can be found between $13 — $22 depending depending on local markets. The good news is it drinks like a $25+ bottle.
This is an oaked Chardonnay, which means that it WILL yield some buttery tones and a richer mouth-feel. Not everyone likes an oaked Chard, but if you’re not sure or you do, this baby is worth a try. It’s a solid expression of California and exhibits the terroir and wine making practices of the region beautifully. It’s basically California in a bottle.
In the glass, we get a clear gold colored hue with a light-medium viscosity. The aromas are reminiscent of stone fruit and tropical fruit with soft white spice. On the opening palate, the texture of this wine is silky and inviting making you feel like you got your moneys worth. Tropical and stone fruit is backed by honey dew, butter and medium acidity over a full-body.
Espiral Vinho Verde
Pair With: Light Seafood and or Shellfish Dishes, Shrimp Cocktail, Chicken Caesar Salad
Before I actually talk about this beauty let me preface this brief review with the fact that I buy a case of this stuff every month from Trader Joe’s. It encapsulates a style of wine that can only be found in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. This wine is not your “classic” style of sparkling wine. It’s actually only mildly effervescent, but the flavor and balance of this vin bounces of the carbon dioxide present in the wine yielding a balance unlike anything I’ve ever found in a bottle under $5.
In the glass, we get a pale straw-colored hue with some evidence of green around the rim. Tiny bubbles also present themselves beginning at the bottom of the pour indicating mild effervescence. The nose pops with lime and tree fruit tones. On the opening palate, the wine is inviting and extremely refreshing. Melon, lime-peel and Spring flowers all become immediately evident. As the palate progresses, we some evidence of light mango and lime sorbet and subtle evidence of mineral tones. Green apple and citrus rounds out a soft and medium finish. Overall, fantastic wine for the price, unbeatable value and balance.
Discover more about the Espiral Vinho Verde in our complete review.
Villa Alena Moscato d’ Asti
Pair With: Creme Brulee, Key-Lime Pie, Cheesecake, Orange Cake and French Vanilla Icecream
This is one of the best value sweet wines you’re going to find at Trader Joe’s. There are several other options, but none that deliver the palate consistency that we found with the Villa Alena Moscato d’ Asti. Keep in mind that this is indeed a very sweet wine, great for dessert, and it does have a low alcohol content. If you’re drinking this, you need to like sugar. Villa Alena also makes a Semi-Sweet Peach Moscato that has attracted somewhat of a cult following, also available on the same shelf in store.
The nose gives off evidence of sweet fruit, apple and orange. The opening palate is similar and slightly effervescent with very soft bubbles, adding a unique touch to a classic Moscato. Evidence of peach, overripe red apple, apricot, orange cream and sweet vanilla persists throughout the palate.
If sweet wine is your thing, this is a solid choice and you’ll get a bit of sparkle as well. The bottle design is also very unique!
Fetzer White Zinfandel Rosé
Pair With: Grilled Salmon, Shrimp Cocktail, Mango-Poblano Oyster Tacos, Asian Noodles
We actually couldn’t find a great tasting Rosé from Trader Joe’s made from the classical Rose grape varieties. Instead, we found the Fetzer White Zinfandel Rosé to be of the best quality in this category. Note that this is NOT a dry Rosé (it’s off-dry) and has a slightly syrupy texture.
This wine literally tastes and looks like pink. Soft salmon color, strawberry and apple on the nose. The palate is light-bodied, fruity and fun with even a touch of carbonation. This really is an off-dry wine making it an ideal choice for those of us who can’t handle anything too sweet. Watermelon, strawberry, light-medium acidity and honey are the dominant flavors detectable across the palate.
Bookmark this article as we’ll be including a dry Rosé from Trader Joe’s as well once we’ve found one that’s worth recommending.
Other Fantastic Wines to Buy at Trader Joe’s
While I typically avoid recommending consumers purchase moderately expensive wines at Trader Joe’s (mainly because you can usually find better expensive wine elsewhere), the wine TJ’s has sourced so far this year has impressed me. That being said, there are a number of high-quality Italian style reds that stand out in particular, in addition to some New World red and white wines that are worth mentioning. We list these out below with an average rating next to each. Each is worth your consideration on your next visit.
- Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella 2012 – $24.99 – (4.5/5) *OUTSTANDING VALUE*
- Bregonzo della Valpolicella 2012 – $17.99 – (4.3/5)
- Fabiano Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2011 – $24.99 – (4.3/5)
- Sommavite Brunello di Montalcino 2009 – $21.99 – (4.0/5)
- Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2012 – $46.99 – (4.4/5) *HIGHLY RECOMMENDED*
- Mouton Cadet Bordeaux 2012 – $ 10.99 – (3.5/5)
- Kunde Estate Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – $24.99 – (3.9/5)
- Meiomi Pinot Noir 2014 – $ 16.99 – (4.4/5)
Great Inexpensive Reds and Whites
- Green Fin Organic California Red Table Wine – $4.99 – (3.9/5) *OUTSTANDING VALUE*
- Joseph Handler Pfalz Riesling 2014 – $5.99 – (3.6/5)
- Trader Joe’s Sauvignon Blanc Grower’s Reserve – $5.99 – (3.8/5)
- Blue Fun California Gewurztraminer 2014 – $6.99 – (3.5/5)
- Vinas Chilenas Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Estate Winemakers Selection 2014 – $4.99 – (3.3/5)