Costco might be best known for its affordable staples like extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and toilet paper but there’s another item that you should add to your giant cart: wine. Much like the selection of high-quality products throughout Costco, the big-box shop’s wine section features a wide range of choices, from very inexpensive bottles to those that ring up for more than $100. But how do you know what to pick? As a sommelier, I’ve spent a lot of time searching for the perfect bottles to pair with a meal. However, as a busy mom of four with a farm to run and a career writing recipes, I don’t have the luxury of time. In other words, trips to specialty wine stores on a regular basis are a thing of the past. So, on a recent trip to buy diapers for my twins at Costco, I veered over to the wine section to see what they had.
While I’ve tasted most of the higher-end wines sold at Costco, all of which are sold at incredible prices there, this time I reached for the more affordable wines, picking bottles that were $20 or less. Some weren’t my favorites as they tasted flat, flabby and more like fruity alcohol than wine. But others were surprisingly good, and I now pick up a bottle (or four) every time I’m there. Since the wines might vary by state, be sure to check out the grape varietals I picked too because while the exact wine might not be available at your Costco, there is likely something similar that’s worth popping the cork on.
Kirkland Signature NV Brut Champagne, France ($19.99)
In order for a sparkling wine to be called Champagne, it must be made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. Typically, Champagne costs at least $40 because of the high cost of producing and marketing Champagne, but this bottle from Kirkland, the in-house brand at Costco, clocks in at just under $20. The Kirkland brand is all the wine without the hype or price. Bubbly wine always brings a celebratory feeling to parties and other special events, but with a sparkler this affordable, any occasion—such as making it through Tuesday—calls for cracking open a bottle.
Huber Vision Grüner Veltliner, Austria ($11.99)
I can’t say enough good things about this wine and almost all grüner veltliners, as they hit all the right spots when it comes to easy-drinking white wines. Huber, which has been making wine for over 220 years, launched Vision as their first organic wine. The striking label features the blue eye of Edith Huber, the wife of winemaker Markus Huber. With only the slightest touch of fizziness and flavors of pear, lemon and white peach, this white pairs well with seafood, spicy Thai food and porches with sunshine, so grab a few bottles.
La Crema Chardonnay, Sonoma, California ($15.99)
Classic vanilla, oak, apple and pear flavors burst through the nose when you swirl this California chardonnay in your glass. Even though chardonnay is not usually my first choice, I pour this wine whenever I’m serving anything buttery, such as shrimp scampi, chicken piccata, gnocchi with brown butter sauce or even just mashed potatoes.
Gérard Bertrand Kosmos Red Blend, France ($9.89)
A quick search online and you’ll see that this French red blend usually sells for at least $19, so when I saw it was at Costco for less than $10, I knew to snatch up a few bottles. Made from seven different red grapes, including Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this wine tastes like it was made as a French house wine for the local restaurant. It’s not too complex and has aromas of ripe red cherries, raspberries, oak and a very slight touch of cloves. Pair it with grilled chicken, Bolognese or a burger.
Zaccagnini Montepulciano Reserve, Italy ($13.99)
I’ve always found that countries that take pride in their food tend to make wine that’s meant to be drunk alongside the food instead of overpowering it. This Italian red, made from the Montepulciano grape, is the perfect example. Also known as the “Twig Wine” because of the piece of wood tied onto the bottle, this wine has flavors of oregano, thyme, plums and blackberries. This Italian red is the ideal foil for pizza, pasta and anything grilled.
Catena Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina ($16.49)
Napa Valley might be famous for cabernet sauvignon but if you’re looking for the best quality for the price, look no further than the Catena Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile. Catena’s cabernet is made from grapes from four different high-altitude vineyards, which means the grapes produce slightly less sugar in the slightly cooler weather. This, in turn, means the Catena cabernet clocks in at 13.5% alcohol instead of the often 15% you’d see in Cab’s from Napa. Lower alcohol translates to a softer, more balanced wine, a welcome cabernet in the sea of high-alcohol reds. Pair with steak, cheese or a really good burger.