Three Trader Joe’s bargain wines that’ll make you dance while your wallet sings

Good buy: Rosa dell’ Olmo Barbera D’Asti represents a top bargain at Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe’s is a fun place to shop, especially for food specialties, incredible cheeses and exciting party dips.

You can also find a good wine or two at a bargain price.

How about a DOCG Barbera D’Asti for $6.99?

Or 91-point Spanish Red Blend for $7.99?

Recently, my Grapefully Yours Wine Podcast co-host Mike Pigeon, aka The Wine Butler, egged me on to take a trip to Trader Joe’s in Nashua to explore the store’s wines.

Click on the following link to watch the show:

Trader Joe’s offers many wines selling for $25 or less, including top-sellers from major producers as well as its own low-cost, brand line sold under the TJ label.

The TJ line is a sight to behold. Pinot Grigio selling for $5.99, Pinot Noir for $10.99, Cabernet Sauvignon for $12.99 and so on. Even wines from Italy and France can be had for under $20.

But are the wines good?

I say, let your palate be your guide. If you like the taste of a wine, drink it no matter what anyone – including wine experts – say about it.

However, the quality of a wine does matter. And high-quality wines usually fetch higher prices.

Which bring me back to Trader Joe’s.

The Wine Butler and I decided to do a random survey of six wines purchased at Trader Joe’s. Our bill came to $62, or roughly $10.30 a bottle.

Decent buy: Trader Joe’s Pinot Noir from Carneros (Sonoma) is drinkworthy.

We also purchased two different packages of creamy goat cheese (one was cherry flavored) and Nann crackers, and then headed to my backyard pergola for a tasting under the first, warm spring sunshine of the season.

I am not going to mention all the brand names of the wines we tasted because three were fairly unremarkable. More important, I understand just how difficult it can be to produce a wine under trying conditions – weather, wildfire, etc. –  so I don’t want to criticize a vintner for making a subpar product when factors are out of his/her control. That said, if the same wine tastes poorly two years in a row, I’ll be the first to make a valid claim against it. In the latter case, the wine house is making a bad decision somewhere along the production line.)

The point here is buyer beware. Some bargains are not bargains at all. They are bad, bulk wines put into a bottle for sale at cheap prices.

That said, here are three Trader Joe wines worth trying.

Best Buy: Marques de Colbert Reserva is a Spanish red blend that overperforms on quality for its $7.99 price.

Rosa dell’ Olmo 2021 Barbera D’Asti DOCG, 13% abv. Piedmont, $6.99 – If you desire a good, dry red wine for simple foods like pizza, pasta and meatballs, burghers and even tacos, Barbera is the one. It’s a favorite of Italian winemakers who routinely pour a glass after a day’s work in the vineyards. What stands out for this one is its DOCG status, the highest quality designation under Italian law. I found Rosa dell’ Olmo’s version to be surprisingly flavorful and smooth for the price, with pleasant cherry and strawberry fruit that took on rustic, herbal notes on its way to a medium-long finish.

Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Pinot Noir 2021, Carneros, abv. 14.5%, $12.99 – The grapes are sourced from Sonoma vineyards in a cool-climate zone, and this pale-ruby colored wine is mildly aromatic, fresh, and accommodating on the palate. As far as California pinots go, this one isn’t going to bowl anyone over from a taste profile; it’s simple and serviceable. The designation “Grand Reserve” on the label means nothing – no such American classification exists.

Marques de Colbert Reserva DOP 2017, Utiel-Requena (Spain), abv. 13%, $7.99 – A red blend of two Spanish grapes – Bobal, Tempranillo – that is aged for a minimum 12 months in American oak and then sees extra time in bottle (Spanish wines labeled “reserva” must be aged for three years, with a minimum six months in oak bottles). The process produces a deep purple color, silky texture and dark fruit flavors of better-than-average savory depth. Yes, this is a solid buy at the price. Drink it with roasted meats, venison and hearty stews. gave it 91 points – a bit generous in my view but who am I to quibble with a nice gift from the Marques!