Business, Food

We Asked A Sommelier To Rank Budget Wines From Costco, Target, Trader Joe's, BJ's, And Lidl. Here's Which Retailer Did The Best Overall.

We Asked A Sommelier To Rank Budget Wines From Costco, Target, Trader Joe's, BJ's, And Lidl. Here's Which Retailer Did The Best Overall.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • We asked a sommelier to taste-test a selection of budget wines from Costco, Target, Trader Joe's, BJ's, and Lidl.
  • These wines were all priced below $10, with one bottle costing as little as $3.99.
  • Here's how sommelier Sara Lehman ranked each brand overall.

Costco and Trader Joe's might not spring to mind when you're thinking about where to shop for good wines, but plenty of shoppers swear by these stores when it comes to finding a good-quality budget bottle.

We asked sommelier Sara Lehman to rank her favorite bottle of red, white, and rosé wines from a selection that we picked from Costco, Target, Trader Joe's, BJ's, and Lidl. We then asked her to pick her favorite brands overall.

We planned to compare a cabernet sauvignon, pinot grigio, and rosé from each brand, but in some cases these wines were not available.

Here's how the brands stacked up:

5. BJ's

BJ's
Business Insider/Hollis Johnson

We tested BJ's Wellsley Farms collection, which launched earlier this month. This five-bottle collection does not include a rosé, so we tested its cabernet sauvignon from California, which starts at $7.99, and its pinot grigio from Venezie, Italy, which starts at $6.99.

It ranked in last place of the five retailers.

"I was looking for a little more character and complexity," Lehman said.

She was initially impressed by the spicy flavor in the cabernet sauvignon but said this faded quickly.

"It's a nice wine, nothing too complex, a lot of fruit, and then it finishes flat," she said.

She recommended bringing this to a potluck where there is a lot of different food on offer and you don't need the wine to be paired with one particular dish.

The pinot grigio was "decent," she said, and a good example of what you would expect a typical pinot grigio to be.

She described BJ's bottles as being the most typical flavor for a low-cost wine.

"It tastes very commercial," she said.

4. Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Trader Joe's famous "two-buck Chuck" collection was the cheapest of all the wines we tasted, but it didn't quite cut the mustard when it came to taste.

We tried the cabernet sauvignon, pinot grigio, and rosé from its Charles Shaw organic collection; these wines all cost $3.99 each.

Lehman was least complimentary about the white wine, saying that it tasted a lot like apple juice.

"Stick a straw in it and I think it would be really good," she said.

The rosé and reds were better, she said, but they still didn't have much taste.

"I wouldn't put too many flavors with [the rosé] because you would lose the taste completely," she said in reference to food-pairing options.

3. Costco

Costco
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Costco's low-cost Kirkland collection was the biggest surprise of all.

We tested its Kirkland cabernet sauvignon and its Kirkland pinot grigio. These giant, 1.5-liter bottles cost under $8.

"I am not going to lie, I had a little bit of a stigma coming in," Lehman said, pointing out the magnum-sized — but low-cost — bottles. "But I was really pleasantly surprised."

The Kirkland brand is known for being a popular choice of Costco members and it's become one of the store's biggest assets. According to a recent report from UBS, the Kirkland Signature label could be worth as much as $75 billion.