We Put Target's New $5 Wine To The Test Against Aldi & Trader Joe's Bottles

Back in August, Target announced it had released a line of $5 budget wines. With wine sales soaring, especially among millennials, it seemed like a natural move from the retailer to move into the growing space. But how would the new budget wines stack up against other retailers already specializing in cheap wine?

To put it to the test, we compared the Target wines to similarly-priced bottles from Aldi and Trader Joe's. And, this since this was five dollar wine, we didn't include the infamous Two Buck Chuck in our tasting. Instead, all the wines we tried ranged from $4.49 to $8.99. While wine experts often advise going at least a few dollars up to the $12-15 range to really make a difference in flavor, sometimes, you're on a budget and gotta make it work for less.

Ahead, how Target stacks up against its budget competition – and which bottles you should invest in.

Table Reds

Table Reds

Red wine blends, or table wines, tend to get a bad reputation since mixing wines together can sometimes be a way to mask flavors. However, many red wines are already blends. Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, is a mix of Cabernet and Sauvignon grapes. Even wines that sound like one variety, like Merlot and Malbec, are made from blends. The wines that don't have a high enough concentration of one particular grape are the ones that wind up with the more generic label of "red blend" or "table red."

Trader Joe's
Green Fin California Table Red. $4.49

Most tasters found this $4.49 wine to be a bit too strong-tasting, commenting that the high alcohol content caused it to burn going down. While all the wines were high in alcohol (at least 12% or higher), this one had the strongest taste. One taster likened it to gasoline, while another said simply, "not yummy."
Aldi
Intermingle Red Blend, $5.99

While this one was not favored by most because it had a stronger taste, it was top pick for one taster because it had a more complex flavor than the others. Even the person who picked it as her favorite remarked that it had an almost "bitter" taste, with a "vegetal" smell.
Winner: Target
California Roots Red Blend, $5

While it was a tad sweeter than the rest, Target's California Red Blend came out on top in this tasting, though every tasting note commented on its sweetness. One taster said simply none of the red blends were to her liking, but if she had to choose, she'd go with this one. We'll likely stick to budget red blends for sangria or other mixed drinks in the future.
Caberenets

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon (sometimes just labeled as Cabernet) is one of the most popular red wine varieties in the world. Cabernets are typically held up as the big, bold wines you pair with steaks, and should be dry and full-bodied.

Trader Joe's
La Finca Cabernet, $4.49

This one was a universal least-favorite. It was a bit too strong – tasters noted that it was vinegary with an acrid smell. However, one taster did write that she would cook with all three Cabs for winter soups and stews.
Aldi
Outlander Cabernet Sauvignon, $8.99

The same taster who enjoyed the complex table wine picked Aldi's spicy, bold Cabernet as her favorite. Other tasters, however, disliked how intense it was. It should be noted that cabs are usually recommended to be drunk with food and this would be a good pick with red meat or other rich mains.
Winner: Target
California Roots Cabernet, $5

Once again, a Target wine won the taste test, with tasters noting that the "somewhat fruity" wine was the "most drinkable" by far.
Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio

One of the most popular white wines in the world, Pinot Grigio is typically thought of as sweet and wet. However, there are several varieties that can range from the typical sweet all the way to mineral-y and dry. Chilled wines are also often good budget buys, since drinking wine chilled can help mask flavors that might stick out in room-temperature bottles.

Trader Joe's
Green Fin Pinot Grigio, $4.99

While none of the Pinots were a hit with our tasters (all were declared "too sweet"), this one got low marks for being especially sweet, though one taster who disliked all three options finally picked Trader Joe's.
Aldi
Giretto Pinot Grigio, $5.99

One taster, a loan Pinot fan, said this had everything she needs from wine: it's Pinot, it's cheap, and it has a great label. This one was also the top pick for other tasters, despite it hitting the more sweet profile of Pinots not favored by most participants.
Target
California Roots Pinto Grigio, $5

This one was the lowest ranked of the Pinots and also of the wines. One taster simply wrote, "Yucky." We're not sure we'd recommend this for Sangria, either since fruit makes it even more sugary – you have to have a real sweet tooth for this bottle.
Chardonnay

Chardonnay

Another wildly popular white wine, Chardonnays are typically characterized as being "buttery," though, like Pinot, there are a range of flavors. Chardonnay can also be divisive since many Chardonnays are aged in oak barrels, giving them a toasty, sometimes strong flavor that's different from many other white wines.

Trader Joe's
Excelsior Chardonnay, $5.49

Drinkable with a strong aftertaste, this got pretty neutral reviews from our tasters, though there were notes about a strong bite or aftertaste. Interestingly, while this is $5.49 at Trader Joe's, this particular wine is also available elsewhere for as much as twice as much money.
Aldi
William Wright Chardonnay, $6.99

Another wine with a heavier taste, this got low marks for how much bite it had for a white wine. While it wasn't as disliked as the Trader Joe's one, it wasn't particularly a favorite, either.
Target
California Roots Chardonnay, $5

While no one tasting was looking forward to the Chardonnay taste-test, this surprised everyone by being not only the favorite of the Chardonnays but also an overall favorite. Mild and a bit crisp, this was easy-drinking without being overly bland or sweet. It definitely was our favorite California Roots option.
In Conclusion...

While we generally see the benefit of spending a hair more for cheap bottles, there were definitely some stand-outs in the $5 wine category. We really liked the Target Chardonnay, and the Aldi Pinot is great for fans of sweeter whites. Target's two reds also won their taste test, though several other reds, like Aldi Cab would be good to pair with food, and all bottles would be great for cooking.

Related Video