12 best and 12 worst wines you can buy at Trader Joe's

If you shop at Trader Joe's, you likely already know about all the great things you can get there, but some of its offerings are, well, less than great, some even border on bad. At the locations that sell alcohol, some of the best offerings can be found in the wine section, but not all bottles are worth buying, regardless of the deal you think you're getting. 

In terms of wine, the grocery chain is probably best known for its so-called "Two Buck Chuck" wines — Charles Shaw wines — which come in several varietals, which should cover most casual wine drinkers' favorites. But, there are numerous other offerings as well. The wine section can be a bit intimidating, especially if you're looking for a delicious wine and aren't just sticking with one particular varietal or label. Best and worst are subjective to a certain extent, of course, but this will at least point you in the right direction the next time you're shopping at Trader Joe's. Plus, you never know — you just might find your new favorite bottle.

Best: Simpler Wines

While most of the "best" bottles on this list are both actual bottles and considered to be among the best due to actual taste tests, Trader Joe's new Simpler Wines are cans sold in four-packs for only $4. According to Business Insider (via SF Gate), Trader Joe's can't keep its new canned wine on the shelves, so it's clearly among the brand's most popular with shoppers. If you haven't tried canned wine yet, the price of this one makes it a good candidate for trying it out.

Best: Louise d' Estree Brut

If you're a sparkling wine lover (there's just something about those bubbles that make even the most ordinary of days fancy), then you definitely need to try this one, on shelves at Trader Joe's and priced at only $8 a bottle. According to Momtastic, this wine is mostly made of Chenin Blanc grapes and is crisp, with smaller bubbles, which means you won't feel overwhelmed by the carbonation.

Best: Wind Gap Rosé

If you drink rosé no matter the weather, you need to swing by Trader Joe's to pick up a bottle of this Wind Gap Rosé. Mic enlisted professional sommelier Arvid Rosengren to help decode the Trader Joe's wine department, and this was his rosé pick. Rosengren told Mic that this $14 bottle of rosé is a bit more tart than some other rosés you might be used to, with more cranberry flavors than the typical strawberry. Sounds refreshing.

Best: Domaine des Hospices De Belleville Morgon

Full disclosure, I love Beaujolais, so chances are good that I'd agree with Rosengren's assessment that this bottle is one of the best you can buy at Trader Joe's. Rosengren told Mic that it's a lighter red with notes of berries and spices, which can be served a bit chilled with pork, chicken, and fish. If super dark, heavy reds are too much for you, try a lighter Beaujolais and see what you think.

Best: Floriana Grüner Veltliner

If you're not used to drinking Hungarian wines, you might not even know what you're missing. As Rosengren told Mic, if you find a store (like Trader Joe's) that bothers to stock wines from Hungary (which are often pretty good), it's worth buying because it's probably pretty tasty. Since the names can be difficult for American consumers to spell, sometimes these wines don't do as well, so if you see a Hungarian wine like this one, jump on it. Rosengren said that this wine, with a little bit of funk, is a good wine for the money.

Best: Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier

If you like Chardonnay, you might like Viognier. According to Real Simple, this wine comes highly rated by users of the Vivino app, which allows users to review wines at restaurants, grocery stores, liquor stores, and the like. This richer, nuttier white has notes of lemon, apples, and banana (yes, banana!), and goes well with roasts, pasta, pork, shellfish, and chicken, not to mention fattier foods like buttery potatoes. At about $13 a bottle, it's not only well-rated, but also relatively affordable.

Best: Meimoi Pinot Noir

This light-bodied red came in at number one on the top 10 Vivino wines sold at Trader Joe's, according to Real Simple. With more notes of red fruit and floral flavors, plus a bit of biting minerality, this wine pairs well with duck, game, beef, and veal. At about $20, it's a bit pricier, but if you're looking for a special occasion Pinot Noir that you can pick up at your neighborhood Trader Joe's, this one might be a winner.

Best: Col Sassoso Lambrusco

If you hear Lambrusco and shudder, thinking of the overly sweet, soda-like carbonated reds of old, you need to meet the newer iterations of Lambrusco, which can be a great warm weather red. According to The Kitchn, this one is a dry sparkling red, perfect for pairing with grilled pizzas, meat, or a nice cheese and charcuterie plate. Like other sparkling wines, Lambrusco should be served chilled. If it's been awhile since you've given it a try, this $12 bottle might be a good place to begin your reintroduction.

Best: Espiral Vinho Verde

Want a cheap bottle of white that's a bit different from your usual, but still pretty delicious? According to The Kitchn, this Portuguese Vinho Verde is a winner: subtly effervescent, crisp and clean with notes of apple and melon (yum), and only 9 percent ABV. How can this get better? You can pick it up for only about $4.50 at your local Trader Joe's.

Best: Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel

While you might not find this at every single Trader Joe's location, if you see it locally, you might want to pick up a bottle. As sommelier and food writer Lisa Elbert told Epicurious, Bogle Vineyards is family-owned, meaning the quality of the wine holds up, even though the brand produces many varietals at a high-volume. The notes of red berries make this wine a tasty one.

Best: Filpa Pato 3B Brut Rosé

Everything about this Portuguese sparkling rosé is probably pretty much brand-new to you, but that might be exactly the reason you want to try to track it down at your local Trader Joe's. As Elbert told Epicurious, it's made in the same style as traditional French Champagne and is a bit tannic as well as aromatic. For $15 a bottle, it's worth a try — especially if you're a fan of sparkling wines and this one, made of Baga and Bical grapes, will be something a little out of the ordinary.

Best: Kung Fu Girl Riesling

This $10 bottle of Riesling is a popular one. Rosengren told Mic that he has both bought and sold a lot of this particular wine. Because it isn't your typical, super-sweet, sort of dessert wine style riesling, it goes well with spicy foods as well as salads. If you're looking for a versatile white that's a little bit different than what you normally choose, this riesling, which you can pick up at your nearest Trader Joe's, might be just what you're looking for.

Worst: Charles Shaw White Zinfandel

If you're not a wine drinker and want to therefore drink the wine that tastes most like juice, then Charles Shaw White Zinfandel might be what you're looking for, but if you actually like to drink wine, this is one of the worst bottles you can get at Trader Joe's. According to Paste, it's the worst of the entire Charles Shaw line and tastes more like "kiwi-strawberry Fruitopia." All that sugar is bound to lead to one doozy of a headache the next morning if you aren't careful.

Worst: La Granja Rosé

When POPSUGAR editors taste-tested several rosés available at Trader Joe's, this was ranked as one of the worst According to POPSUGAR, the aftertaste is mostly alcohol and there isn't much complexity or layers of flavor, which means it's probably not your best bet if you like wine, and might be especially disappointing if you love rosés. Bummer.

Worst: Trader Joe's Charles Shaw Blend Cabernet Sauvignon

When Atlanta Magazine recruited Neal McCarthy, the co-owner and sommelier at Miller Union, to taste test wines sold at Trader Joe's, this one did not get a glowing review. McCarthy said it smelled awful and pretty much just tastes like grape juice. Suffice it to say, that's not how you want your Cabernet Sauvignon to taste. Not at all.

Worst: Rene Barbier Mediterranean White

McCarthy told Atlanta Magazine that this white wine is "fine." While it's definitely far from the absolute worst bottle of wine you can buy at Trader Joe's, "fine" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement either. If you're looking for a very affordable, very average bottle, this one should do the trick for just any old night. That being said, it's not exactly one of the best bottles you can buy there either, meaning you can probably find a better way to spend the $6.

Worst: Pinot Noir Trader Joe's Reserve, Russian River Valley 2012

McCarthy did not have good things to say about this particular wine, his comments landing it squarely on the list of worst bottles you can buy at Trader Joe's. He told Atlanta Magazine that this wine tasted like wood chips and had a "bad oaky smell" first, followed by fruit, signaling that the wine likely isn't super well-balanced, flavor-wise. Skip it and spend your spare $10 on something else.

Worst: Charles Shaw Sauvignon Blanc

In Paste's taste test, this Sauvignon Blanc, another wine that's part of the Trader Joe's Charles Shaw line, this didn't score all that well. Tasters compared it to sour candies and the scent of cat urine. I don't know about you, but any drink that smells like cat urine is one that I do not need to try. Put what you'll save by skipping this bottle towards one that's better.

Worst: Charles Shaw Nouveau

In the vein of other Charles Shaw taste tests, a writer at Thrillist recruited his girlfriend and Sam Lipp, the former bar manager at Eleven Madison Park in New York City, to taste as many varieties of Two Buck Chuck as possible. When they tasted this red, Lipp compared it to grape candies, way too sweet and not very wine-like, and the writer's girlfriend compared it to a body spray from a store like Bath & Body Works. Not exactly what you're looking for in a glass of wine.

Worst: Vin de Bordeaux Sauvignon de Seguin

Again with the cat urine. McCarthy told Atlanta Magazine that while this one has flavors of gooseberry, it also smells like cat urine. He said it was too astringent. Astringency plus cat urine means you're far better off saving the $7. Buy yourself a better, more well-balanced, complex bottle of wine instead.

Worst: Charles Shaw Shiraz, 2014

According to Mass Live, this wine tastes a lot like alcohol when first out of the bottle, with some fruity background notes. The taster said that an hour or so later, it was far sweeter and the next day it was "a bit odd and even fruitier." While you may enjoy sweet reds — and therefore might quite like this wine — if you're a drier red wine drinker, this bottle is not going to be one of the better ones you can buy at Trader Joe's.

Worst: Grifone Riserva Chianti, 2013

According to Mass Live, this wine included an almost-overwhelming flavor of bubblegum, which just really isn't something you really want in your red wine. The taster said that they had noticed the flavor in some of the cheaper American reds offered at Trader Joe's, but this one is Italian, so the flavor was more unexpected. Again, if you're a fan of sweeter, bubblegum-y reds, you might like this one, but otherwise, you should pick another bottle instead.

Worst: Grifone Sangiovese Profumando a Fecettato

Bubblegum-flavored reds again. According to Mass Live, the bubblegum flavor was especially noticeable right after the bottle was opened, though after it had sat for a while it was still somewhat noticeable (the taster said "gummy"). Additionally (and perhaps even worse), the following day there was a sort of gasoline-like scent and flavor to the wine, which means it's definitely not one of the best that you can buy at Trader Joe's. Pick out something you'll enjoy more.

Worst: Charles Shaw Pinot Grigio

If you're looking for a delicious, subtly complex Pinot Grigio, this is not the one for you. According to taste testers at Paste, this Pinot Grigio tastes mostly like a grocery store white grape juice, with some floral notes for added interest. It might not be the absolute worst wine you've ever bought from Trader Joe's, but there are certainly better bottles on the shelf.