Sweater weather is here, which for me means it’s time to shop for holiday wines. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I am bound to have Friendsgiving feasts and intimate dinners to attend. And there is no better budget-friendly—yet thoughtful—contribution to those meals than a lovely bottle of wine. For that, Trader Joe’s is here to the rescue!
Trader Joe’s offers a diverse selection of reasonably-priced wines, sometimes at lower prices than the same bottles sold in other wine shops. Here are seven wines under $11—plus, one that comes in at about $22—that I recommend for any holiday table:
Wine Buying Tip!
As a third-level sommelier, I have strong feelings about where people shop for wine. My number one tip? Make sure your wine shop is a comfortable temperature. Ideally, you should want to wear a sweater when inside. A cooler temperature prevents the quality of the wine from going down. Trader Joe’s stores its wines at a temperature well suited for maintaining their quality.
1. La Burgondie Crémant de Bourgogne ($10.99)
Produced by a well-known French winery that also creates very high-end wines, this sparkling wine bubbles with flavors of strawberry and apples. It is an excellent wine to kick off any celebration because it is guaranteed to stimulate an appetite. If Crémant is a new term for you, know that it is a sparkling wine made outside the region of Champagne, in the Loire Valley of France.
2. Opaline Pinot Noir Brut Rosé ($8.99)
This bubbly can’t be missed thanks to its prism-cut glass bottle. Made with Pinot Noir grapes, this light-bodied—it means it goes down easily and feels like water on the tongue—rosé tastes like fresh baked bread, summer cherries, and a touch of citrus. It’s a perfect start to any celebratory meal.
3. Espiral Vinho Rosé ($4.99)
Made by the same winery as my favorite summer wine, this lightly effervescent wine is my top choice for those that live in warmer places—like all sparkling wines, it should be served chilled. This sweet and light-bodied wine is reminiscent of sugared cranberries. I like to serve it as a spritzer, mixed with club soda, frozen cranberries, and a sprig of rosemary.
4. Emma Reichart Dry Riesling 2021 ($5.99)
Having lived in the Riesling region of Germany for quite some time, I am a sucker for dry Riesling, which can be difficult to find here in the U.S.. Many of my friends assume that Rieslings are syrupy sweet, but they are a versatile grape that can be turned into a variety of wines—my favorite is bone dry, like this one from Trader Joe’s. It’s not sweet and has flavors of citrus, apricots, and herbs, the perfect pairing for turkey.
5. Vignobles Lacheteau Vouvray Semi-dry 2021 ($9.99)
Made with Chenin Blanc grapes, this medium-bodied white wine is nontraditional in a good way. It will remind you of Chardonnay in its weight on the tongue, but doesn’t taste like it! Instead, it smells like fresh cut flowers and tastes like honey drizzled over ripe nectarines. Be sure to serve this well chilled.
6. Reserve des Chastelles Tavel Rosé 2020 ($8.99)
This lineup of wines proves that I love rosé in the fall, especially paired with the flavors of Thanksgiving. The Tavel region of the Rhône Valley is known for producing rosé wine with a deeper color—traditionally, they keep the grape skins in contact with the juice for longer. This results in wine with greater complexity than your average rosé. Medium in body, this tastes like toasted almonds and blackberries.
7. Ténèbres GSM 2020 ($6.99)
This wine is a blend of three red grapes: Grenache, Syrah and Mouvèdre. It will be a favorite amongst those who like a full-bodied wine aged in oak. With bold notes of cinnamon and raspberry jam, I recommend decanting this bottle to let its big flavors unfold. If you don’t have a decanter, simply open the bottle two to four hours before the feast.
The Splurge: Cecilia Beretta Amarone della Valpolicella 2017 ($21.99)
The “A” in Amarone doesn’t stand for affordable, but this medium-bodied wine offers excellent value for the price! It smells like what I love most in Thanksgiving pies: vanilla and spices. It tastes like ripe berries, without the complexity of typical Amarones that tip towards overripe berries or even raisins. Serve this towards the end of the meal, so that it can be enjoyed with dessert.