Trader Joe’s is probably the world’s best grocery store. I mean, let’s just start with the cheese aisle. I have never had a bad cheese from Trader Joe’s. Plus, it’s just so convenient when you can grab your high quality cheese and wine from the same place without breaking the bank! If you are looking to learn more about wine without taking out a small personal loan, I highly recommend Trader Joe’s. Their wines are accessible, and their tasting note cards are super helpful.
Here’s my short list of the 8 best Trader Joe’s wines for under $15 (in no particular order). Enjoy!
1. Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 201
When people see the word “Muscadet” they often get scared, thinking it’s Moscato. Actually, "Muscadet Sèvre et Maine" is a specific region within the Loire Valley in France known for their dry white wines. The grape used to make this wine is called Melon de Bourgogne (or Melon for short).
Wait wait wait… doesn’t “Bourgogne” mean “Burgundy?” Yes. It’s confusing. Melon de Bourgogne is a white grape that grows in the Loire Valley, not Burgundy!
And what’s with this “Sur Lie” thing? “Sur Lie” translates to “on the lees.” In short, lees are dead yeast cells that gather at the bottom of the barrel or tank after fermentation is complete. When a wine ages on the lees, the result is a wine with a fuller mouth feel, because as the cells break down, they release polysaccharides and proteins that render the wine fuller. I once heard someone say that lees to a winemaker is like salt to a chef!
Tasting Notes: This is a light to medium bodied, bone dry wine with high acidity and medium alcohol. It smells like apple, jasmine, and honeydew melon, and has a beautiful pale yellow color.
Verdict: Overall, if you love mineral driven white wines, I'd highly recommend trying this wine! I was blown away by how complex it was for the price and the texture was beautifully balanced.
2. Floriana Grüner Veltliner 2019
Grüner Veltliner (pronounced “Groo-ner Velt-lee-ner”) is gaining popularity these days among sommeliers because of how food friendly it is. Grüner tends to have high acidity, which helps to cut through rich dishes like pork schnitzel or Thai curry. Recently, I was at Trader Joe’s and I was about to leave when a beautiful green bottle caught my eye. Or was it the price tag? Either way, this last minute purchase was totally worth it!
Tasting Notes: Aromas of pear, yellow apple, lemon, white flowers, and a hint of flint makes for a beautiful bouquet. The wine is light bodied, bone dry, has medium plus acidity, and low to medium alcohol.
Verdict: The typical white pepper note that Grüner is known for was missing, but at that price point, this is still a bargain. I would definitely buy it again!
3. McBride Sisters Sparkling Brut Rosé
This bottle from New Zealand is the priciest of my Trader Joe’s recommendations - but this one is totally worth the extra few dollars. The McBride sisters are an inspiring duo making wine out of New Zealand and California. They were raised without knowing the other one existed, and when they found each other, they started a wine brand together. If you want to hear the rest of their story, listen to their interview on How I Built This!
Tasting Notes: The ultimate fruity and floral combination! This wine has aromas of strawberry, cherry, peony, and rose. It has low tannin, medium plus acidity, light to medium body, and a dry finish.
Verdict: So tasty! This wine is perfect for summer and any celebration! Would highly recommend stocking up on this one.
4. Sanborn Chardonnay 2018
I’m not going to lie, I usually stay away from California Chardonnays. The butter bomb isn’t quite my thing. This Chardonnay is from Santa Rita Hills, which also has great Pinot Noir that I enjoy, so I decided to give this one a try. I’m so glad I did, because it made me realize that I shouldn’t write off an entire winemaking region because of its stereotype. It is always possible to find hidden gems!
Tasting Notes: This wine has a gorgeous medium gold color, with lemon curd, white flower, and yes, lightly buttered popcorn aromas. It is medium bodied with medium plus acidity, high alcohol, and no residual sugar.
Verdict: Don’t judge a whole wine region by its “cover!” Definitely would buy this one again. Just be sure to serve it fully chilled, otherwise the butter aroma can become more pronounced.
5. Les Portes de Bordeaux
Bordeaux wines are notoriously expensive, so when I found a bottle at Trader Joe’s for under $10, I knew I had to try it. My friend Olivia (@ollyverthewino) joined me as we discovered this budget bottle from one of France’s most esteemed appellations. Bordeaux is known for its blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This bottle was approachable, and would be a great option for pizza night with friends!
Tasting Notes: Very fruit forward aromas, like strawberry, cherry, and blackberry, plus some graphite. The wine was lighter bodied than I expected, but had very high alcohol. It’s totally dry and has medium tannin.
Verdict: I would definitely recommend this one to others as an introductory level Bordeaux. It’s not my cup of tea due to the high alcohol, but overall I think it’s good quality for the price.
6. Corvelia Cabernet Sauvignon
This bottle comes from Paso Robles, California, a region known as the Wild West of California winemaking. The wines from this region are typically high alcohol, with sweet red fruit notes and enough acidity to make your mouth pucker. Cabernet Sauvignon is also known for its high tannins, so this wine definitely packs a punch. I tasted it on an Instagram Live with my friend Paige (@winewithpaige), and we were both big fans!
Tasting Notes: This one had a surprising herbal aroma to it, plus some cherry notes. It is buttery in feel (not taste!) meaning it is smooth and luscious.
Verdict: This wine is dark and deep, just like my angsty pre-teen days. Savor it with a throwback movie for the ultimate pairing!
7. Emma Reichart Rosé
Full disclosure: a rosé for $5 scared me. Most cheap rosés tend to have a chemical, Jolly Rancher-esque flavor that turns me off. Before I tasted this one with my friend Chelsea (@guidedvines), we were both really worried about finding that off-putting flavor. But what we found really surprised us!
Tasting Notes: This one was a peachy salmon color, with watermelon and cherry notes. It had that mineral “waterfall rain on rocks” thing, with just a hint of acidity and good body.
Verdict: For $4.99, this is crazy! This wine goes down very easily, but there’s a ton of flavor. It’s not a watery wine at all, and it avoids the cheap wine Jolly Rancher cliché. At this price, I would buy the wine again without batting an eye!
8. Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc & Viognier
This white wine blend from California will be a crowd pleaser. The Chenin Blanc brings beautiful, rich honey and tropical fruit notes, while the Viognier brings a viscosity and a fuller mouth feel. I tasted this wine with my friend Caroline (@carolinedupape), and we felt like this one was like winning the jackpot at $10, especially since wines tend to be more expensive from California.
Tasting Notes: This fresh, white wine tastes like peach and yellow apple, with rich honey undertones. It is rich and viscous.
Verdict: Two thumbs up! This was an acid bomb up front, but it mellows out in your mouth. If you like crawfish, this is the wine you will want to pair with them!
Did I miss any of your favorites? If so, let me know in the comments below!
And if you try any of my wine recommendations from Trader Joe's, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@corkandfizz)! Cheers!