Who Actually Makes Aldi's Winking Owl Wine?

Whether you're looking to host a party on a budget, create a romantic little dinner à deux, or celebrate wine o'clock all by yourself, being broke doesn't mean you should have to drink nasty plonk that could double paint thinner. While Trader Joe's Charles Shaw (aka Two Buck Chuck) may have popularized the concept of cheap wines you needn't be ashamed to drink, Aldi's Winking Owl is another rising star in the booze-on-a-budget field.

Although it is not labeled as such, Winking Owl wines are, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, produced by the E.&J. Gallo winery mega-conglomerate that also produces wines under its own brand as well as for labels ranging from Boone's Farm to Apothic to Talbott (via the Greensboro News & Record).

Is Winking Owl wine any good?

"Fairly decent" seems to be the general consensus of several wine experts quoted in a Grape Collective round-up of reviews. Robert Scheer of the Indianapolis Star said the shiraz "tastes like it should," and admitted that he'd buy it again. He also remarked that you could do a lot worse for more than triple the cost of the Winking Owl wine (it typically retails for around $3). Dave Van de Walle of MetaSip also praised the shiraz, calling it "quite tasty" and awarding it a rating of B+, apparently unheard of for a wine at this price point. Dave from Cheap Wine Finder called the cabernet sauvignon "very drinkable [with] a nice mix of flavors and no 'off' flavor or odd textures."

Dennis Maley from the Bradenton Times compared the Winking Owl to the Charles Shaw shiraz and found both to be "certainly drinkable," although he gave "a slight edge to Winking Owl." He did mention, however, that he found both to be inferior to Lindeman's Shiraz Bin 50, an Australian wine that only costs about $2 more than either Winking Owl or what is now more likely to be Three (or even Four) Buck Chuck.

So what's up with the name, anyway?

Can owls wink? Do they? Why would they? Well, we're not sure as to the reason for winking, not being expert ornithologists or avian ophthalmologists, although a Google image search does affirm that owls can and do wink. What we can tell you is that there was an actual owl who inspired Winking Owl wine's label.

According to Aldi's website, this "wide-eyed little mascot" kept watch over their vineyards (they use the past tense, so we're assuming the original owl has passed on) and "skillfully kept the pests at bay, no matter the weather or the time of day." The wines were named in honor of this winking (if anonymous) owl, celebrating the commitment of a "pint-sized [so obviously not a barn owl] protector with the heart of a hero." Very cute, as are the label graphics. Drinkable wine, adorable owls — what more could you want for three bucks?