Update: Please visit our top Trader Joe’s wines of 2019 for a more recent list
If Trader Joe’s wine has you thinking two buck Chuck, think again. The grocer has over five private label wines, including a Coastal line of California wines for $5, a Reserve line for $10, and a Grand Reserve line for $12+. To help you sort through the sea of bottles, we scoured wine review site Vivino to find the most popular Trader Joe’s-branded wines in 2018.
The good news? Price is not always an indicator of quality. Not surprisingly, the $2.99 Charles Shaw line fared the poorest, with nearly all wines receiving only a 3.0 or 3.1 out of 5.0. But the most expensive Grand Reserve wines did not all receive high ratings, with some scoring lower than the cheaper Reserve and Petite Reserve lines. So, you don’t need to shell out $15 for the most expensive Trader Joe’s wine to get a good bottle.
Vintage also plays a major role in the quality of a Trader Joe’s wine. Trader Joe’s wines primarily consist of inventory from other wineries. This inventory varies from year to year, so a 2015 Trader Joe’s Chardonnay might taste different from a 2016 vintage.
Here are the Trader Joe’s wines that have consistently shown quality across multiple vintages, including the current release:
2016 Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Syrah
4.1 stars – 50 reviews
Highlights: Drinkers rave about this Syrah’s dark fruit, structured tannins, and bold, full body. The wine is from Paso Robles, which is known for its Rhone varietals.
2016 Trader Joe’s Platinum Reserve Pinot Noir
3.9 stars – 59 reviews
Highlights: This Carneros Pinot Noir was oak aged for 15 months, which is longer than most. The oak aging likely contributed to taster’s notes of vanilla and black tea, alongside the more typical cherry and red berry.
Watch outs: Some drinkers complain that the Pinot Noir is too sweet.
2015 Trader Joe’s Sangiovese Reserve Lot #128
4.0 stars – 27 ratings
Highlights: This isn’t an Old World-style Sangiovese — it’s a New World, fruit-forward Sonoma County Sangiovese. Based on reviews, it appears to have less acidity, more fruit, and a slightly fuller body than an Italian Sangiovese. Tasting notes commonly mentioned dark fruit and a dry finish.
Watch outs: None.
2016 Trader Joe’s Contadino Pinot Grigio
3.8 stars – 408 ratings
Highlights: The 2016 Pinot Grigio earned 3.8 stars, a higher rating than prior vintages. Drinkers loved its light, crisp notes of apple, pear, and citrus, along with a slightly fizzy finish. This Pinot Grigio is from Venezie, Italy.
Watch outs: Some didn’t like the lemony acidity and dryness of the wine.
2016 Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Lot #51 Chardonnay
3.7 stars – 70 ratings
Highlights: If you’re looking for a classic, buttery California Chardonnay for $10, this is a solid buy. While the 2016 vintage appears to have slightly lower reviews than the 2015 vintage, overall drinkers were satisfied with its rich, smooth flavor.
Watch outs: There were a few complaints about less complexity and a shorter finish
Have any favorite Trader Joe’s wines? Share in the comments!