This story was originally published on June 4, 2016.
As a bona fide wine geek, I tend to pony up a bit more cash than the average consumer for even my Tuesday night wines — the $15 to $20 range is more my speed. On top of that, I’m probably one of only a handful of millennials who never really got on the Trader Joe’s train. I really only wander in for the frozen dumplings that sustain me on nights I don’t have the energy to cook. So when I was asked to suss out the top TJ's wines under $10, I was a little wary at first.
But after a thorough search, I found some great values and was pleasantly surprised at the variety and affordability of the wines on offer. For curious drinkers, TJ’s offers a great starting point for exploring bottles from all over the world and discovering your palate without making a huge financial investment. Overall, I would say that I took away a couple key lessons on how to navigate the Trader Joe’s wine section:
1. Look to Europe or South America for better deals. I know it’s tempting to buy California wines because they’re familiar, and you can pronounce the names. But bottles from Europe often offer a much higher quality for the same price and South America has earned a reputation of affordability for a reason.
2. Don’t rely too much on packaging. Some of my favorite wines had the most boring, dated, or unappealing labels — especially the ones from abroad. I love a well-designed label as much as the next gal, but try to focus on what’s inside the bottle. (I know that can be tough, especially when you're not sure what you're looking for, but that's why I'm here to help!)
Ahead, find some of my new TJ's faves for under $10.