When people hear the word sommelier, they tend to get intimidated. What I like to tell people is that I am just like anyone else – I like the best value for the lowest price. When I was traveling in Spain a few months back, I was amazed by the quality: price proposition that was prevalent in wine selection. It’s normal to walk into a store a find a fantastic wine for under € 5.00. I was inspired from that trip to focus more on finding the best inexpensive wines for business and for personal consumption. One of the best resources I have found for this is Trader Joe’s.
Here are 4 wines that are not only crowd-pleasing at WineUp tastings, but I love as well:
Why I like it: High acidity, not too full-bodied or tannic – this is an easy drinking red. If you are a newb to wine, the best way I can break it down in taste is that it is similar to a Pinot Noir in the sense that it doesn’t create that mouth drying feeling (what tannins achieve), but less ripe cherry characteristics. You will like this wine if you like Beaujolais Nouveau or light-bodied table reds that aren’t riddled with residual sugar. I use the words table-wine interchangeably with wines that are lower in alcohol, inexpensive, but tasty. Another great reason to get into this wine: it’s not overly recognized as a Trader Joe’s wine, so if you would like to bring a nice bottle of wine that is sure to please a crowd, chances are no one will know you didn’t spend a lot of money.
Price: $7.99 – the most expensive wine on this list.
Muscadet Sevre Et Maine Sur Lie Producer: Vignobles Lacheteau
This producer also sells an awesome Vouvray (100% Chenin Blanc), but don’t confuse the Vouvray when trying to buy this wine. The Muscadet, in my opinion, is vastly superior.
Why I like it: Again, I like high acidity wines that are balanced with some complexity – which is why I prefer this varietal to most Sauvignon Blancs, as it has more complexity and a creamier mouthfeel. Sur Lie is the term for “with lees”, which means that the wine is kept in contact with dead yeast cells, creating texture and depth along with non-fruit aromas like brioche and puffed wheat. Muscadet is not moscato, which is a common misunderstanding. Muscadet can be an awesome value (it’s known as a jug wine in the Loire Valley where it comes from), but not all Muscadet is treated equally. For a quality hack, look to ensure it has “Sur Lie” printed on the label – thus indicating “with lees” for a more complex variety.
Trader Joes Grower’s Reserve Petite Sirah
Petit Sirah is more commonly known as Durif when not grown in the U.S, and is not the same wine grape as Syrah. It also does not mean “small Syrah” – a common misconception.
Why I like it: This is a crowd pleaser, as it’s fruity, full-bodied, and approachable. I mention it on this list because most people who I have tasted this wine on LOVE IT, and can’t believe it’s under $5. If you like easy-drinking red blends, and full-bodied jammy types, you will be very happy with this choice. Pair it with a skirt steak over salad, on a weekday night and you have yourself a great value, yet super tasty pairing! If you like wine with lots of complexity, depth, and tannins – you might not like it, as it’s not very challenging. If you consider yourself to have a more advanced palette, I would skip this one.
L’ Être Magique Côtes de Provence rosé
Quite possibly my favorite rosé for under $10 that I’ve ever had, for several reasons. First of all, the packaging is quite impressive, and we do care about that because half the time, I buy wine to bring to an event or as a gift for someone else; looks and labels convey value proposition. This rosé is everything you want in a Provence style rosé…bone dry (no residual sugar), light, crisp, refreshing, and tasty. I like to think of rosé styles like parts of a watermelon – the inner part is sweeter and juicy – like some new world rosés, and the outer part is greener, more tart – like Provence-style rosé. Magique rosé fits with the latter description; a style that is highly coveted now, unlike the rosés that were once popular in the early 90’s.
Price: $4.99 (a STEAL!)
If you liked my recommendations, tag @getwineup on IG as you’re enjoying! If you didn’t like them, tag me anyways so I can improve my content and provide better value.
Cheers winos! 🍷