Growing up in an Italian family with a penchant for the Italian tradition of amazing late-night meals, I was used to always seeing a bottle of wine at the table. My parents carefully chose which wine to serve with their meals, and my mom made wine an art—it was meant to be savored, appreciated, and food pairings were essential.
When I turned twenty-one, I found out that this was not genetic. I couldn’t tell a merlot from pinot grigio (one’s red, one’s white), and on a college student’s budget, I usually went straight for the affordable (cheap) section of the liquor store, filled with Barefoot and Arbor Mists. Not to say these aren’t delicious, but I wanted to learn to appreciate wine the way my family did, for all its complexities. Over the years, my palate has slowly adjusted to different wines, and I can discuss and order wine more confidently. However, as a young woman in my twenties, while I may have developed bougier taste, I am still bound by a Barefoot wine budget.
The solution to this dilemma is Trader Joe’s. We love TJ’s at Verily, as you may have noticed, and for a good reason. The food is affordable, healthy, and unique, and it’s made better by the fact that every employee seems to have a perfect personality. As far as wine goes, they offer a good selection of wines, most of which are affordable for someone shopping on a budget. Further, TJ’s makes it easier for an amateur wine drinker like myself to choose a wine without being a certified sommelier. As this holiday season approaches, and you find yourself serving wine to larger groups of people, it can be stressful choosing a wine that is appealing to the masses while not breaking the bank. Here are five affordable and delicious wines from Trader Joe’s, that go beyond their famous Two Buck Chuck.
The Pontificis GSM (40% Grenache, 33% Syrah and 27% Mourvedre) - $7.99
This red is a perfect table wine—it’s smooth and easy, and is perfect for a large crowd with a variety of palates and a range of wine expertise. It’s medium bodied but light enough to be served with dark meat. This wine can last through a dinner or event, from course to course.
The Pontificis (Viognier Roussanne Marsanne) - $7.99
This is the Pontificus GSM’s sister wine. This has slowly become one of Trader Joe’s most popular wines for a reason. Made in France, this is an exclusive to Trader Joe’s. Although it has a drier finish, this will appeal to the general white wine drinker, and it became my favorite white as I transitioned away from sweeter wines. This white blend goes well with salads, fish, and light sauce pastas.
Patòn-Clemente, Tempranillo Crianza - $4.99
This red wine is a daring pick. As far as TJ wine goes, this is the most complex for a bottom dollar price. Break out this wine for your adventurous or seasoned wine-drinking friends and family. This tempranillo is earthier, and it surprises you with a sour cherry finish. Serve with a cheese platter or with a meaty main course.
Cecilia Beretta Freeda Rosé Trevenezie - $8.99
Although it’s normally associated with summer, I’d argue that every wine list and season deserves a good rosé, and this is one of the best that Trader Joe’s has to offer. Light and fruity, it pairs perfectly with seafood or salad. To top it off, this wine has the added benefit of having a gorgeous label.
Schloss Biebrich Sekt - $5.99
This is the perfect bubbly for a mimosa at brunch or to a toast a special occasion. The Schloss is light and dry, with only a little sweetness to it. Best of all, the price is amazing, especially for a tasty Sekt, so pop the cork and enjoy!