The Best Wines to Buy at the Grocery Store, According to a Sommelier
Jun 15, 2023
Plus how to order them online.
Breana Lai Killeen, M.P.H, RD, is a Chinese and Jewish chef and dietitian who has worked in all facets of the food world. She is a recipe developer, culinary nutritionist and marketing specialist with more than 15 years of experience creating editorial and digital content for top food and kitchen brands.
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My dad has been collecting wine since I was a kid—he stocked our cellar with bottles that came in wooden boxes and were purchased by the case. So when I went off to culinary school in London, it seemed only natural that I also would take wine courses at the Wine Spirit and Education Trust. And by the age of 22, I was a certified sommelier.
For years, I only shopped in local curated wine shops for wines from small, obscure producers. If the "wine snob" definition had a photo, you might see my face. I was that person.
But I'm finding that my snobbiness about wine is diminishing as I age. Now I'm the parent of twins. I own a farm. I have a full-time career writing about food and developing recipes. Needless to say, I don't really have much time for perusing wine stores. But since I still love to end my day with a glass (or three!) of wine, I've started to look elsewhere for my bottles.
For the past two years, I've been making my way through the wines at grocery stores, Costco, Trader Joe's and even gas stations (yes, you read that correctly). It might seem crazy, but I've found very drinkable bottles—dare I say delicious?—and I'm now sharing those with you. And even if you live in a state where you have to go to a proper liquor store to buy wine, you can still find these affordable bottles there. Cheers!
All prices are from wine.com.
Bubbles always mean celebration for me, so I'm willing to spend a little more on a bottle. But this more affordable dry sparkler from the California outpost of France's Mumm Champagne hits the spot. Made from equal parts chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, this sparkling wine has flavors of fig, pear, honey and apples. Keep a bottle in the fridge for whenever you need to hear that festive pop.
Buy it: NV Mumm Napa Brut Prestige, California ($21.99)
Ripe grapefruit, lemon zest and cantaloupe aromas waft straight into your nose when you pour a glass of this popular New Zealand sauvignon blanc. It pairs equally well with dinner as it does with a day on the beach, so I always have a bottle or two available for pouring for company or to pack along for a picnic.
Buy it: 2022 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($14.99)
This chardonnay from J. Lohr hits all the notes that classic California chardonnay lovers adore: buttery with flavors of peach, apricot and oak. In a blind tasting with several other more expensive chardonnays, the J. Lohr took the top spot. So if you haven't tried it yet, grab a bottle.
Buy it: 2021 J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay, Monterey County, California ($13.99)
For me, a cold glass of rosé on a hot day evokes the same feeling as the first sip of coffee on a cold morning. It's equally as refreshing as it is nourishing for the soul. The La Vieille Ferme Rosé, the one with the chickens on the label (well, technically, it's a chicken and a rooster—yes, I'm a farmer), is dry, not sweet, and has aromas of ripe strawberries and the sea. While some may only think of rosé as summer wine, I've always thought it can be paired with any meal or time of year. You can even buy this one in a box, making it even more affordable than it already is.
Buy it: 2022 La Vielle Ferme Rosé, Rhône, France ($12.99)
This 70% sangiovese, 30% cabernet blend has enough depth and weight to hold up to steak and short ribs, but its price is equally perfect for pizza night. Notes of pepper, vanilla and sweet cherries along with good acidity make this grocery store wine worthy of the curated wine shop.
Buy it: 2020 Carpineto Dogajolo Toscano, Tuscany, Italy ($12.99)
Made with organic grapes, the Bonterra cabernet is lush and fruity but still has a good amount of acidity, so it's great with food (think steak or grilled chicken). For hot days, give this wine a little chill before serving. As it warms up, the vanilla, oak and spice notes bloom.
Buy it: 2020 Bonterra Organically Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, California ($16.99)Buy it:Buy it:Buy it:Buy it:Buy it:Buy it: