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Trader Joe's Wine

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Just wondering if anyone can share their favorite wines sold at Trader Joes. They have some bargains that pretty decent if you are just looking for a glass with dinner. Looking for some recs.

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  1. They have an Amarone @ 12.00, qite the deal.

    1. s

      Obvious answer: "Two-Buck Chuck" aka Charles Shaw. Reliable table wine for dirt cheap. They do most varietals, including the now verboten Merlot (damn you 'Sideways'!). News stories pop up now and again about blind taste/quality tests where Charles Shaw wins out over significantly higher-priced wines.

      To keep this Boston-centered, they run $3/bottle here in Taxachusetts, and I believe the shipments arrive at area stores every Saturday. And, I don't think the Back Bay TJs carries it, but they don't carry much, so hey.

      4 Replies
      1. re: seekaltroutes

        back bay TJ's doesn't have a iquor license....

        Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

        1. re: seekaltroutes

          I admit to happily drinking Chuck's sauvingion blanc, and really hating the merlot. I also like Red Truck very much and I've bought a bunch of the $7 prosecco. I've tried many others and don't remember any disappointments. TJ beer is also good at $5. Too bad for my local wine merchants.

          1. re: seekaltroutes

            Seriously? It is not reliable; two-buck chuck is made from the leftovers of whatever come out that year. So, by definition, it can't be a reliable taste. Some years may be decent, some may be swill. I know that you can't really argue with a wine that's $3, but still...at least shell out like $7 for Red Truck, which is actually not bad.

          2. Trader Joe's wine are great! We have tried several of their Australian wines, and they are always very good. The Banrock Station for reds is a good reliable choice, and so is the yellowtail for their whites. Try their ports as well. It is flavoursome and at a fantastic price! When I'm not sure what to get, the guys at Trader Joe's are often very helpful and gave lots of helpful tips. I go to the Cambridge Trader Joe's at Memorial Drive.

            1. Winners I've picked up in Coolidge Corner (West Newton has no liquor license):

              Dao vinho verde, <$10
              Francis Coppola table wine, ~$15
              Some good malbecs

              I think the lesson is that if you compound the cheapness of wine from certain countries (South America, Portugal) with TJ prices you get a big bargain.

              1. At the Coolidge Corner and Cambridge TJ's--

                Nobilo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($12?)
                Ique Malbec
                Coppola Black Label Claret ($15)
                Abrazo Del Toro spanish varietal blend ($7, a real bargain)
                Rabbit Ridge Zinfandel
                Ravenswood Zinfandel

                1. Clay Station Viognier $12
                  Ravenswood Zinfandel $10
                  Ferrano Sauvignon Blanc $6

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Steve

                    FerranDE Sauvignon Blanc

                    Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

                    1. re: galleygirl

                      or maybe Ferrari-Carrano? :)

                      1. re: nomadfromcincy

                        Naw, it's just my favorite of their cheap whites, so the label is engraved on my retinas...;)

                        I also like the Pearly Bay Sauv.Blanc, for $3.99 on cheap days, and for splurges, the King Shag SB out of New Zealand is a real bargain at $7.99

                        Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

                    2. re: Steve

                      Is the ravenswood the vinter's blend?

                    3. Clay Station Viognier $12
                      Ravenswood Zinfandel $10
                      Ferrano Sauvignon Blanc $6

                      1. I overheard a gentleman trying to help another couple, recommending Nero d'Avola (Ruggiero di Tasso) an Italian red. I bought a bottle after trusting the recommendation of a stranger. He told me I wouldn't be disappointed. HE WAS RIGHT. The wine is fabulous and at $5 you feel like it shouldn't be. Gave this away at Christmas to many happy friends (feeling very cheap in the process!).
                        Another recommendation is the Giesen Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Very delicious and $8 less than my local wine shop favorite.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: 4chowpups

                          i definitely have to second 4chowpups here. i've been drinking the nero d'avola (sicilian red) for the past year and love it for its smooth fruity flavor and 5 dollar price point.

                          from the back label: 100% nero d'avola grapes, produced in southwestern sicily, "lot's of berry character with soft tannis and a lightly jammy finish. pair with red sauced dishes and grilled meats."

                          a TJ worker helped me pick out this wine; it was labeled a TJ staffs' favorite. workers there have always led me in the right direction and seem to know what's up with the wines. don't be afraid to ask for recommendations.

                          1. re: 4chowpups

                            I am a huge fan of the Giesen SB, but have never seen it at TJ's. In the bay area I can get it at Bev&More, or Cost Plus for around ten bucks, which TJ's have it? Thanks.

                          2. Thanks. I love the 2 buck Chuck, but I've been picking up some other bargains lately and wanted to see what others were buying. I've tried a couple Malbec's and some good reds from South America.

                            Any Chardonnay recs? My girlfriend likes white, I'm more of a red.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Ali G

                              If your girlfriend likes whites, don't get a chardonnay, pick up one of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (Giesen, Nobilo, Sacred Hill). She'll never drink chardonnay again.

                              1. re: winedude

                                I second the Geisen - saw it at the TJ's on memorial Drive last week - a great, crisp sauv blanc!

                                1. re: winedude

                                  In regards to the Chardonnay response, I realize that it's not so cool to love it right now, but it certainly serves a time and place (and food). I love other whites, but in most cases still keep going back to a nice Chardonnay. Bad to make generalizations.

                                  However, I haven't found any that I was crazy about at TJs.

                                  But for reds, you can't go wrong with the EXP Syrah for $10!

                                2. re: Ali G

                                  Forgive me if I misspell. I love the Pomodoro that they sell on the back wall at TJ's in Cambridge. The label on the bottle is very distinct...it's a man with a tomato for a body. It's $6.99 and wine to go with a red sauce.

                                3. How is it that Trader Joe's can offer such inexpensive prices on wines? I just love going there, looking around, and trying new wines. They offer some wonderful bargains and I've gotten some very good bottles of wine that sure taste like they should be more expensive than they are!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: BackBayGirl

                                    TJ can offer such prices because their bulk quantity is enormous. Every one of the bottles mentioned on here will make a medium sized vineyard rich just supplying them. And although I have no bones about the cheap and cheerful beverages they call wine here (i've drunk quite a few bottles myself); they are a different animal than the wine that is chirped about when you pay - say over $25 retail.

                                    1. re: chloe.speaks

                                      Actually, vineyards and wineries control the prices of their wines by only producing a certain number of bottles per vintage. But, sometimes they have leftover wine after that, so rather than throw that wine away, they bottle it with a different label, a Trader Joe's label, and sell it for significantly less. So you can spend $10 on a bottle of TJ's wine that would normally coast $80. That's better than a $25 bottle elsewhere.

                                      1. re: knyjihll

                                        1) That's why I follow this board and similar ones for tips on these bargains. The problem is that the wineries don't exactly broadcast it when they sell off that wine.
                                        2) TJs sometimes also buys 'end lots' and moves them quickly enough that the winery doesn't worry too much about tarnishing their image. Costco used to be that way for apparel companies before they got so big. Last year I found a Sauv Blanc, from Anderson Valley, at my local TJs for $5.99, that I know was selling for $18 at a couple of local wine shops.

                                        It really helps to find trustworthy sources of info, especially regarding second labels. TJ's recently had a Zin blend called Tribunal that was supposedly made by the same winemaker who made The Prisoner at 3 to 4 times the price. The wine tastes like much more than the $9.99 it sold for but whether or not it's really the same juice I don't know. Through this board I was able to track down a case at a store 50 miles from home and have a friend pick it up.

                                        1. re: Midlife

                                          Hm-m, did not know that Orin Swift had a second label. Thanks for the tip on that. His Prisoner and also Papillon are very good, if one likes the bigger styles of Zin, and blends.



                                  2. villa borghetti valpolicella - just under $6.

                                    i get it from the TJ's on memorial drive in cambridge. it has become our everyday red, but still good enough as a last minute offering for when we're unexpectantly invited to a friend's house for dinner.

                                    1. The benefits of one stop shopping are not lost on me. However, at the price range laid out in the thread above you could shop at almost any good wine shop and get a great bottle of interesting wine and get good wine service as well, from the buyer or manager or some one who has actually tasted the wine and knows a thing or two about pairing. I wouldn't trade service and education for 2-buck chuck.

                                      1. i'm quite surprised at all of the praise upthread for two-buck chuck. am i alone in finding it undrinkable?

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: wleatherette

                                          I'm with you. The cost of an empty bottle, a label, a cork, somebody to put it all together and then fill it with wine, somebody to drive it from California.......how much money is left in that wholesale total for wine? Not much. This is an agricultural product people, not a coke.

                                          1. re: wleatherette

                                            i'm with you too. i've always thought of the 2 buck chuck (or 3 buck here in MA) as really bad. i've used the sauvignon blanc for cooking which was fine, but on it's own it's just not good. it would have been good when i was in college (considering i used to drink boon's at the same price) or if i had never tasted a good wine in my life. i'm sorry if i sound snobbish, but for me 2 buck chuck is on the same level as grocery store tomatoes in the middle of winter.

                                            1. re: rebs

                                              Poeple who shun 2-buck chuck are not snobs. They know a good deal when they see one, and that is just not a good deal. Buying the cheapest thing available is not an example of value, its just cheap.

                                            2. re: wleatherette

                                              2 buck chuck is JUNK. I bought one of each to try (figuring some varietals might be passable... but had to pour all of it down the drain. Really undrinkable. It always amazes me to see people buying up this stuff by the caseload. TJ's does have great prices on other drinkable wines that are quite reasonable. The VILLA BORGHETTI VALPOLICELLA is a soft, drinkable wine. They have quite a few inexpensive Pinot Grigio's for btw $6-$8. For 11.99, I like the Edna Valley Chardonnay. No reason to waste $3 (in MA) when you can get many drinkable wines for a few bucks more.

                                              1. re: WineTravel

                                                the villa borghetti valpolicella has been my everyday red since i discovered it almost a year ago. and at just under $6 it's a great value...

                                              2. re: wleatherette

                                                Definitely Not! I had to spit it out after being forced to try it.

                                                1. re: wleatherette

                                                  No, you really, really aren't the only one...I will literally never understand the appeal.

                                                  1. re: wleatherette

                                                    Let me just say that NO ONE I know personally -- with the singular exceptions of a) my father-in-law*, and b) Fred Franzia (and let's face it, what would you expect him to say?) -- likes, enjoys, purchases and/or consumes Chrles Shaw, aka 2BC.


                                                    * And even he has lost his interest in it.

                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                      ROTFLMAO, Jason. Do we have the same Italian FIL?



                                                      And yes, mine has come over from the dark side after plying him with expensive (ie wines over $8) stuff, and now just enjoys throwing TBC out there for a few yuks.

                                                  2. 2BC is miles ahead of the ghastly pruney crap that was most low-end California wine not so very long ago, and which is still available at supermarkets all over California. I like the sauvignon blanc, because it's the sort of clean-but-soft white I want on a hot evening, and the cab is OK with supper. Would not touch the merlot with a bargepole, and the shiraz is just too...much.

                                                    Here in SoCal, my TJ faves at the under-$6 level are the aforementioned Nero d'Avola, a suave French blend called l'Authentique, TJ's own French-sourced cab and the d'Aquino reds, all of them. The La Ferme Julien red, white and rosé are very pleasant, and lately they've had a Frascati whose label I don't remember, but it's in a frosted bottle and runs $5.99 and it's OK if not the best I've had.

                                                    1. TJ is great source for everyday drinking wines and especially stocking up for a party. That said, I don't usually wind up being very excited by these wines, but definitely happy with extremely low cost yet drinkable-without-cringing. The VdP de Vaucluse Merlot-Carignan is nice.

                                                      The exception to this rule (meaning I am quite excited by this wine) is the Espiral Vinho Verde--a delicious, classic VV, fizzy, dry, refreshing, perfect for summer, and only $3.99 in NYC.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: kenito799

                                                        Agree completely.. Love the Vinho Verde at $3.99, but my TJ here in the Chicago area runs out of it often. I think you either love or hate this wine tho, my husband and many of my friends don't like it at all---o.k by me , since it just means it's all mine!

                                                        1. re: jackie de

                                                          I like the Vinho Verde a lot too - and it does seem like the Chicago TJs run out of it all the time!

                                                      2. two buck chuck Always has given me a headache and often a migraine. I was questioned as to whehter it was in my head-yes odd choice of words, but it has happened at parties where did not see it poured. now i always make sure I know what I am drinking and if chuck is the only think on menu, go without. If it works for you personally I say fine, but you should not serve it to friends that are sensetive to headaches. I do not care for TJ Califorina or Autralians or "market labal" wines (these are too inconsistant). the Italians esp the Pinot Grigios and French esp Bordeaux (sp) are usually good. You may also like the Belgian Frambiose is they have it. It is actually a beer, but amazing. TJ's price if very good on them, esp if you get the large bottle.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: lyn

                                                          Argh I wish TJ in NY had beer. But at least we do have that wine store in Manhattan...the other NY stores are all food only! I don't understand why, other supermarkets in NY can sell beer...I should write to them.

                                                          1. re: kenito799

                                                            The TJ in Manhattan sells beer. Its in the back left of the store.

                                                        2. Just wanted to say thanks to the folks who resurrected this thread. I picked up a few of the wines reccomended here - the Vinho Verde and the Villa Borghetti - and liked them a lot. The gentleman working at the store also recommended a 2004 Dr. Beckermann Reisling which was very good for just $4.50.

                                                          I hope folks will keep posting on this thread!

                                                          1. TJ's is great for wines on the cheap-er
                                                            but you should also check out Costco, espec. around the holidays for great deals as well.

                                                            1. I've found some great buys at Trader Joe's over the years, but as a general rule, I've found that the cheap stuff's not good, and the good stuff's not cheap.

                                                              1. Try Trader Joe's privated label Costal Cab...Not bad 4 bucks a bottle....John O

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: jho3802

                                                                  it's definitely drinkable, far better than TBC, cheap enough so that if we don't go through the bottle and end up throwing half out, i don't feel bad.

                                                                2. One of my favorites buys is Trader Joe's own brand of sake, a junmai ginjo, for only $10. For a sake of that quality, $10 is very cheap. And it is a smooth, easy drinking sake. An excellent value.

                                                                  1. I like the Rosemount Cab/Shiraz blend for $5.

                                                                    1. I enjoy the La Boca Malbec. I think it sells for about $4, and it is actually decent.

                                                                      1. kenito:
                                                                        I saw beer today in the grocery part of 14th St TJs -- far back left corner, next to the tasting stand

                                                                        I'd love to see this thread keep getting updated!

                                                                        I can't stand TwoBuck, or their house label Pinot Noir.
                                                                        But was very happy with that fizzy vinho verde this summer, AND I just came home with the Nero D'Avola. whoppee. I really like that grape...can't wait to open the bottle and see if this is anywhere near my regular favorite Nero D'Avola that Astor in NYC has run out of...

                                                                        If the l'Authentique referenced above is the Corbiere's blend with the owl on it ($14 in NYC) it's nice enough. I think that's Cuvee Mythique, come to think of it

                                                                        On the Ravenswood Zin - the vintage makes a huge difference. I think it was the 2002 that was a great staple -- then the 2003 tasted like cloves to me. phooey.
                                                                        That could be 2003 - 2004, I forgot to write it down after I scoured our local places for the year I liked!
                                                                        The Ravenswood Lodi in the store right now is no great shakes either.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: pitu

                                                                          thanks for the update! Anything good?
                                                                          I just drank 04 Alamos Malbec purchased at TJ and it was a nice wine with grilled meat.

                                                                        2. you're welcome
                                                                          good in the beer?
                                                                          Ommeghang (bet I'm not quite spelling that right...)
                                                                          Brooklyn Brewery (weisse was 8.99/6pak)
                                                                          good stuff, but not so hard to find elsewhere either

                                                                          we tried a couple of their TJ brand beers - just okay

                                                                          1. Coastal is a good cheap wine from TJ's.

                                                                            1. Considering their Barbaresco & Bourgogne Blanc are at least $35 less per bottle than I can buy either elsewhere, they're quite nice. Sorry - threw out bottles - can't remember vintners.

                                                                              1. Hi Ali G.
                                                                                I know that wine preferences are a matter of taste but I am not wild about the "two buck Chuck" wines..none of them. I decided to start by buying the cheapest red wine on their shelves that I could find and work my way up from there. (in my area it retails for $3.49 and it has miraculously become my favorite. I tested it on my friends and they thought that it was at least a $10-$15 bottle of wine! It is called IL VALORE Sangiovese 2005 from Italy. The bottle label has a "burnt tomato" color with a nondescript abstract 1 1/2 inch square picture on the front center. It is wonderful with italian food and actually not a bad sipper on its own either. I hope that this helps! If nothing else, you will only waste a few bucks experimenting. What more can you ask for?!
                                                                                Karen Layer

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: karenlayer

                                                                                  Check the verse on this page ... it's whole mission is TJ's wine deals:

                                                                                  That search is for 10 bucks or less .. if you're a high roller you can change that.

                                                                                2. I know this thread is dead but it is my favorite topic...That said, here are my Top 10 for February:

                                                                                  1. 2005 Epicuro Aglianico - $5
                                                                                  2. 2006 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere - $7
                                                                                  3. 2005 Rocking Horse Napa Valley Zinfandel - $8
                                                                                  4. 2006 Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc - $8
                                                                                  5. 2003 Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot - $6
                                                                                  6. 2005 Kono Sauvignon Blanc - $8
                                                                                  7. 2004 Chasing Clouds Central Ranges Shiraz - $3
                                                                                  8. 2006 Aquila d’Oro Toscana - $4
                                                                                  9. 2006 Castle Rock Monterrey County Pinot Noir - $10
                                                                                  10. 2005 Archero Nero d’ Avola Ruggero di Tasso - $4

                                                                                  Let me know what you think.

                                                                                  Hope you enjoy!


                                                                                  1. In the South America section, get a Malbec. Especially the Paniloco. Also Black Mountain makes a mean Malbec. Both of these are only 5 or 6 bucks and are just a party in your mouth.

                                                                                    1. CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT THE SHELF LIFE FOR MEDIUM TO LOW PRICED CARMENERE WOULD BE?

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: PAUL POSOLI

                                                                                        Is there a reason why you're shouting?

                                                                                        But to answer your question, no. Aging potential depends upon the specific wine, not upon its price tag.

                                                                                      2. Is anyone else enjoying the relatively new Barrio Boca (I think that is what it is) wines - there is a Malbec, a Cabernet, and a Merlot. The Malbec is particularly decent for an everyday wine, in my opinion, and it is only $3.99.

                                                                                        1. Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir was a nice little find. Not cheap by TJ's standards - $12.99 - but good flavors and profile. New world but with some old world funkiness.

                                                                                          1. Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT listen when people tell you to get 2 buck chuck. Yuck. Do, however shop for wine at TJ's because they have some great stuff. Two of my favorite grat buy standbys are:

                                                                                            Kim Crawford's Sauvignon Blanc (get the latest vintage of this one, which is now the 2008). It's in the New Zealand section, should be about $14 bucks.

                                                                                            Concha Y Toro's Casillero Del Diablo Carmenere
                                                                                            (should be about 7.99, has an orange label on the top).

                                                                                            1. TJ selection is hit and miss, but when you find a gem at $5.99, there's no reason to get anything else (for everyday purposes). Plenty of great selections -- both those exclusive to TJ and others (Rosenblum is a good example).

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: henmonster

                                                                                                I *really* dig the 07 Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone, found last week at TJ for $6.99. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and would have no problem breaking out more bottles for a nice dinner get-together. (twist-off cap too; yeah you go, Frenchies!)

                                                                                                1. re: havham

                                                                                                  I have an update! I haven't read all of the previous posts so if this is a repeat, I'm sorry about that. I am in Chicago and they have a very good cheap red called Blue Fin. The label is nothing fancy. It is dark blue and has a cheap appearance, but the Pinot Noir goes with just about any food I've paired it with and the Petite Shiraz is not a bad sipper either. It is a real people pleaser as well! I've turned all of my friends on to it and even though they know it's a cheap one, ($3.99 a bottle) they are happy when I bring it along. Hope that helps!

                                                                                                  1. re: karenlayer

                                                                                                    Blue Fin Pinot Noir appeared briefly over a year ago, and sold out in a hurry. Don't know if that prompted them to do a bigger buy this year or what, but it's holding up on the shelves pretty well. Just $3.99 here in California, and really quite nice.

                                                                                                    Of course, what do I know? I like 2BC cabernet just fine ... though I think the merlot is ghastly.

                                                                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                      if you are in the market for a $2 wine that is actually drinkable (not good, but drinkable), keep an eye out at Whole Foods for their "Three Wiishes" wine. they don't carry it all the time, but when they do have it, it is the best in the "least costly wine imaginable" category.

                                                                                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                        Whole Foods raised the price of this wine to $3.60/bottle.

                                                                                                  2. re: havham

                                                                                                    last night tasted 2 buck chuck cabernet again.
                                                                                                    even after giving it almost an hour to breathe, it was completely undrinkable.
                                                                                                    down the drain it went.
                                                                                                    i guess it was ok for cooking as the other guests did consume the stew that the hostess made using it.
                                                                                                    my update is to avoid this plonk at all costs.
                                                                                                    even the 21 year old at the party, who normally will happily drink anything containing alcohol threw out his glass of the the stuff.

                                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                      Hopefully, you weren't surprised . . .

                                                                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                        i wasn't surprised, but since the hostess was serving it, out of politeness i took it to the loo with me and disposed of it down the sink out of sight of the hostess and the other guests.

                                                                                                      2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                        Yes, I consider it a personal victory every time I can steer someone away from the TBC.
                                                                                                        The Villas Chilenas $2.99 Sauvignon Blanc was decent for the price point last time we tried it and I'm thinking the Cab, Merlot, and Chard might be OK as well.
                                                                                                        When anyone asks me about Mr. Chuck I tell them "I wouldn't drink it".
                                                                                                        Bad Box Wine In a Bottle = Bleck! Drink what you like and if you like TBC, you can have mine.

                                                                                                        1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

                                                                                                          Availability Alert! Super limited quantities.
                                                                                                          2009 TJ's Petit Reserve Paso Robles Albarino ($5.99) is pretty darn tasty for the price point. Lots of pear with citrus and I liked the acidity and finish.

                                                                                                          1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

                                                                                                            The Albarino was in the Toluca Lake store yesterday. Ankle-level shelf. Paired with some good sashimi it was a bit fruit-forward. Better in its own, I think.

                                                                                                      3. re: havham

                                                                                                        Probably the best that one can do would be to stop by THEIR TJ's and pick up a mixed case, or two. Taste quickly, and then head back for X btls. of the ones that they liked.

                                                                                                        Different TJ's will have different offerings. In PHX, we usually have different wines, than just over the border in SoCal. One never knows.

                                                                                                        Good luck,


                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                          the problem with that strategy, as i've found out through painful personal experience, is that you can end up spending tons of money before finding a good bottle. there's a lot of plonk being sold there, especially at the lower prices.

                                                                                                          i've had much better luck at TJ's following the recommendations made on this board than i have in following the recommendations made by the crews that work at the local stores. (i live very near 6 different TJ stores)

                                                                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                            I could not agree more. Wife just picked up a mixed case from a local TJ's (Phoenix), and we were not impressed. All were whites, and rather across the TJ price-point range. So far, nothing is working, per this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793766

                                                                                                            Will some others reward us? Only time will tell, but so far - NO!


                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                              So sorry to hear about your negative experiences and I wish I could scout out your local store(s) to see what's available compared to my store. Here in the Bay Area we have a number of stores that have Wine Teams or at least one Geek that gets a chance to sample things occasionally and make notes. If you tell me your preferred stores, I'll make inquiries if you like.
                                                                                                              Yes, unfortunately IMO we sell a LOT of plonk especially at the lower price points.
                                                                                                              However, we do get hidden gems every now and then that make the search worthwhile. More interesting reds than whites of late, although we recently got a Roussane from Lake County I'm interested in checking out.

                                                                                                              1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

                                                                                                                BigWoodenSpoon, you, personally, are the most reliable source of info on TJ's wines.
                                                                                                                the strategy that works best for me is to wait for you to make a recommendation on this board, print it out, and THEN phone or go to my local stores to see if they carry the stuff. Sometimes they have it and sometimes they don't, but as long as I don't stray from your recommendations everything works out well.

                                                                                                                you are my preferred wine geek, BigWoodenSpoon.

                                                                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                  Why thank you westsidegal, it's nice to be appreciated. : )
                                                                                                                  I will continue to poke at the new Captain (yes, another one) and try to get a Tasting scheduled within the next several weeks as soon as Reviews & Inventory are done.
                                                                                                                  I'm heading to OR & WA wine country in August and I'll report back if I fine anything spectacular. Hope everyone had a great 4th!

                                                                                                                2. re: BigWoodenSpoon

                                                                                                                  Now, I have had a few "hits," but more "misses." Not sure where the AZ TJ's fall into the scheme of things, but would assume that we are rather down the list.

                                                                                                                  We seldom "go shopping" for wines there, but then, when we find a few, that we know, do not hesitate to pick them up.

                                                                                                                  Then, it is all about personal tastes. What one loves, another might not, regardless of price. It's all about the wine, and those personal tastes.

                                                                                                                  Thanks for your gracious offer, but I feel that you would not recognize much here, plus it's too hot here to leave SF... [Grin]


                                                                                                                  PS - we now are in the Bay Area once per month, and from June through Sept., we flat love it!!!!! In other months, it's really good too.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                    For approximately 30+ years, I've been telling people who want to buy wine at TJ's to go as soon as the Fearless Flyer comes out -- buy 12 different bottles, be sure to have a corkscrew and glass(es) in the car. Taste all 12, and then go back in and buy more of the one or two you liked . . . .

                                                                                                                    Haven't seen much to change that advice.

                                                                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                      So.................. wait. You're suggesting we spend $60-$100++ in hopes of finding one or two wines worth spending ANOTHER $60-$100++ each on??

                                                                                                                      I understand the premise (though maybe on a smaller scale) but the math isn't making sense to me. Didn't we just double the cost of this "bargain" wine (if we find only one)? There's only so much pasta sauce or sangria I can make with the losers. And.............. the winners had better be REAL winners.


                                                                                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                        Keep in mind that I've been saying that for over THIRTY years . . . and back then, virtually ALL the wines TJ's carried back then were $1.99-$3.99, so a case was always <$50, and NEVER in the $60-100 range . . . considering that most people were spending $6-8, maybe $10, a bottle back then, the one or two that you discovered that were really good (and worth buying a case or two of) were bargains at that price . . .

                                                                                                                        I "came up" with that advice based upon what several of my customers told me they did when the Fearless Flyer arrived . . . THEY drove to TJ's with a corkscrew and glasses, tasted through a dozen wines in the parking lot, and then re-entered the store to buy 2-5 cases of what they liked -- splitting the cost among them. Considering 1) how "iffy" TJ's wines were back then, and 2) it cost each one of them $10-20 to discover the wines they liked, it has always seemed like a reasonable strategy to me . . . .

                                                                                                                        Now, I have loads of friends who shop at TJ's -- myself included -- but I don't know of anyone who buys wine there . . . certainly LOTS of people do, but none of my friends are among them. Food? Of course! Spirits? Sure. Beer? Yup. But wine? Nope.


                                                                                                                        Keep in mind, too, that this advice pre-dates the current German ownership of TJ's and goes back to the original founder, Joe Coulombe. I guess, since the Albrecht family has owned TJ's since 1979, I actually started giving out this advice in the late-1960s and throughout the 1970s and 1980s -- so it's been a lot more than just 30 years ago. (Time flies when you're having fun.)

                                                                                                                        Under the Albrecht family, TJ's expanded its wine selection to include wines which -- aside from Champagne -- was almost exclusively comprised of private- and control-labels, coupled with close-outs. Now, they have added a selection of (for lack of a better term) "regular" wines, too. Still, no one I know gets their wines there -- despite the thousands and thousands of cases TJ's sells every year . . .


                                                                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                          If you don't like a wine (or anything else you buy at TJ's), you can return the remainder for your money back.

                                                                                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                            your post made me think of the yogi berra quote:
                                                                                                                            "nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded"

                                                                                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                              One can always count on the wisdom of Yogi . . . .

                                                                                                                          2. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                            Not to be confused with OUR Jason, try this site:


                                                                                                                            I used to get a quasi weekly email, but not sure if he still does the list. Like our Jason says about the Fearless Flyer, when the blog appears you need to make a call(s) to see if your local place has what you're interested in and have them hold it or go get it very soon.

                                                                                                                            I've used this over the past several years for picking up large quantities for weddings and such, or just daily quaffers for the home racks. Good bulk deals I recall were the Now & Zen white and Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles, a couple of years of the Chariot (07, iirc) and the 08 Tribunal, a great one from Dave Phinney of Orrin Swift. The 07 Picket Fence RR Pinot Noir @$10 is getting a log of attention at the moment.

                                                                                                                            My advice, read the other Jason's blog first, then apply OUR Jason's strategy... best of both worlds, IMNSHO.



                                                                                                                            1. re: PolarBear

                                                                                                                              Thanks for the link. I'm very familiar with the site.

                                                                                                                              I was able to score a case of Tribunal a couple months ago, after enlisting the help of westsidegal (here on Chow) in locating some inventory. It was worth every penny of the price and probably twice as much or more.

                                                                                                                              I've enjoyed Chariot too. Never tried Now & Zen, but it would take some heavy duty recs to get me to try Rabbit Ridge again after some really bad experiences when they were still up in Sonoma.

                                                                                                                              I've done zin1953's parking lot tasting a few times over the years, at TJ's and also at Total Wine. I always feel like I should be crouching down in my back seat though.


                                                                                                                            2. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                              i was actually stupid enough to do just that twice.
                                                                                                                              now i know better---just wait for BigWoodenSpoon to tell us what to buy.

                                                                                                              2. Also look for wines with a Trader Joes label. These can run up to $12 a bottle and come in different varietals sometimes even international offerings. They usually are very good values and offer a lot of flavor for the money.

                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: foodwinebooks

                                                                                                                  Yes . . . MANY stores have private and control labels . . . TJ's isn't alone in that. BevMo, K&L, -- a number of stores do.

                                                                                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                    I've never found TJ's private-label wines very good values.

                                                                                                                    If K&L does private labels I haven't seen one. They do direct imports, some of which are among the best values around, especially on closeout.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                      my experience with TJ's private labels is that 90% of the time they have not been good values at all.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                        K&L has a number of control labels. I do not know if they *currently* have any private labels, but they have done so in the past.

                                                                                                                        I agree that TJ's private- and control-labels aren't that good in the QPR Dept.

                                                                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                          Isn't Kalinda K&L's house label??