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I Tried 10 Aldi Wines & the Best Was Tart and Juicy

The popular discount grocer stocks a lot of low-priced wines, but are they any good?
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Aldi is known for its low prices and tightly curated amount of inventory, only stocking around 1,500 products at any given time. This means that the German grocer has to be more selective about what it's putting out on its shelves, sticking mostly to private labels and only products of the absolute best value.

In Aldi stores where alcohol is sold, this methodology carries over into the wine aisle. Here, shoppers can find rows of vino that, for the most part, are exclusively sold at Aldi. Even better, they're often priced at around $12 or less.

After taking it all in for myself, I can tell you that Aldi's selection pales in comparison to Trader Joe's or that of other larger supermarkets. However, it was still more robust than I had anticipated. At my nearest location in Columbus, Ohio, there are an adequate amount of reds, whites, and even rosé and bubbly bottles. The real question remains, though: are any of these low-priced varietals actually tasty?

To find out, I picked up 10 varieties from Aldi's Winking Owl brand, Specially Selected line, and more. Grab your reusable bags and a quarter for the shopping cart, and let's dive into my fruity findings.

Specially Selected Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

a bottle of sauvignon blanc next to a glass of white wine
Photo: Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!

Aldi's Specially Selected premium collection gives shoppers a taste of wines from all around the world. The assemblage was dropped just last year in 2023 and this sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, is a permanent fixture, as well as four other diversified bottles. Like most sauvignon blancs, its taste is meant to be crisp, fresh, and fruity with a well-balanced acidity—a little nondescript, if you ask me. But, I grabbed a bottle at the discount store, anyway, for $9.99.

The look: From the outside, it looks like your typical hoity-toity bottle of wine with gold trim and an image of clouds rolling over rocks by the ocean. Once poured out, the liquid appears to be very light in color, even for a sauvignon blanc.

The taste: The acidity is not well-balanced as promised. On the nose and even as you have your first taste, it tricks you into thinking it will be a bit sweet with a pleasant honey-like flavor. But, instead, every sip ends with a sour finish that lingers. For me, it's much too tart with intense notes of both lemons and grapefruit. I tried really hard to like this white wine given its status and intriguing "Middle Earth" origin, but it's just not my cup of tea.

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Winking Owl Chardonnay

a bottle of chardonnay next to a glass of white wine
Photo: Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!

Winking Owl is to Aldi as Charles Shaw Wine, or "Two Buck Chuck," is to Trader Joe's. The fowl-inspired brand is the German-based store's bargain wine label, which produces chardonnay, moscato, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, shiraz, a sweet red, and a fruity sangria. It's not as dirt cheap as it used to be (thanks, inflation). But, you can still snag a bottle of any of the above for under $5.

Hailing from California, the Winking Owl chardonnay is described as semi-dry and medium-bodied with "subtle flavors of ripe apple, pear, toasted oak and a hint of spice." Priced at $4.95, the bottle also advises that it's best served cold, so I obliged.

The look: In the glass, the wine has a deeper hue compared to the previous sauvignon blanc but one that isn't quite as golden as other chardonnays I've sipped on. Meanwhile, on the bottle, there is an owl perched on the front label in multiple shades of green and he is, in fact, winking as if he just let you in on a juicy secret.

The taste: Let's call a spade a spade. It tastes like a cheap bottle of wine. But, it's not one that makes me turn my nose up in opposition. With citrus undertones and obvious tangs of apple, it's on the sweeter side for a chardonnay. It's light and drinks smoothly, though. And, when it is chilled to a nice frosty crisp, its refreshing nature makes you forget all about its lower price point, and inevitably lower quality.

Specially Selected Uco Valley Malbec

a bottle of malbec next to a glass of red wine
Photo: Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!

Dipping back into the Specially Selected Collection, there's a malbec from Mendoza, Argentina, available at Aldi for $7.99. The label explains that the grapes were "handpicked from the high altitudes and cool weather of the prestigious Valle de Uco," or Uco Valley, making for a bold and fruit-forward red wine. Specifically, drinkers will want to keep an eye out for tastes of black and red fruit throughout the bottle as well as hints of spice and floral notes.

The look: Like a very grown-up glass of wine in a deep shade of plum. For me, its vessel doesn't elicit strong feelings either way, but the mountain landscape imagery and blue coloring are welcoming.

The taste: Neither bold nor particularly fruity, as the label denotes. If I could judge it based solely on its smell, which reminds me of cherries, it would be far better off. Unfortunately, though, the taste is rather boring, bland, and even a touch watery. Dry with an eensy bit of tannin, it does fit the bill of a classic malbec. But, I think the most interesting thing about the bottle is the fact that it contains 13.5% alcohol by volume.

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Giretto Pinot Grigio

a bottle of pinot grigio with a glass of wine
Photo: Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!

The Giretto ("little trip" in Italian) pinot grigio has a few badges of honor as an award-winning Aldi wine. The bottle is also a product of northern Italy, and more specifically the Delle Venezie region, where about 85% of the country's pinot grigio is produced. With predominant pear, apple, and yellow plum aromas and crisp fruit salad flavors, the white wine invites you to vita semplice (live simply). Don't mind if I do. A standard-size bottle rang up at a reasonable price of $5.99.

The look: The color here is very faint—almost like water with a small droplet or two of yellow food coloring stirred in. But hey, that's pinot grigio for you. The bottle's label, though, is more enticing, displaying just a simple bike meant to remind you of a casual ride through the Italian countryside.

The taste: It hits you aggressively at first with a sour fruit flavor similar to an unripened pear. Then, just a bit of sweetness swoops in to balance it out and save the day. The liquid settles into a very rudimentary take on a pinot grigio that is easy to swig yet leans more toward the dry and acidic side. I could see it as an enjoyable poolside or daytime beverage, but I probably wouldn't make it a regular on my wine shelf. Like the Winking Owl chardonnay, I would also make sure to store this one in the fridge for best results.

Winking Owl Cabernet Sauvignon

a bottle of cabernet next to a glass of red wine
Photo: Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!

Where there's a white, there's also a red. So, of course, I had to try a bottle of Winking Owl's darker-hued vino as well. I opted for a cabernet sauvignon–one of the world's most popular wine varieties. Like the house brand's chardonnay, this one is also from California. It's said to be semi-dry, medium-bodied, and shows off flavors of blackberry, plum, and toasted oak with a touch of vanilla. A standard 750-milliliter bottle cost me just $4.95, the same as the chardonnay.

The look: The sneaky owl appears here again. Yet this time, he's sporting a dashing shade of periwinkle. The rest of the front label is very simplistic and to the point. As for the wine itself, it's somewhere between medium and dark purple.

The taste: After first cracking the top on this bottle, it smelled intensely fermented and almost liquor-like. Luckily, this anomaly softens as the wine reaches your taste buds and it turns out to be surprisingly pleasant. It's certainly not dripping in richness or tannins—I don't think it has any at all for that matter. It does, however, present a level of sweetness that seems to be tied to some sort of dark berries such as elderberries or blackberries (as the label would suggest). I wouldn't nominate it for any kind of award, but it's approachable and satisfactory for its humble cost.

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Peaks & Tides Pinot Noir

a bottle of pinot noir next to a glass of wine
Photo: Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!

Unlike the term "peaks and valleys," which is meant to represent the highs and lows in our lives, the brand name Peaks & Tides represents the mountainous and coastal landscape of California's Sonoma County, where this wine is produced. A few of the brand's bottles can be found at Aldi, but I selected a 2021 pinot noir priced at $12.99. Flavors of cherries and strawberries are indicated as well as elegant French oak and a "beautiful mouthfeel." The label also suggests pairing the bottle with a roast chicken or mushroom risotto.

The look: A pale ruby color and more translucent than the other reds. As far as bottles go, this one doesn't necessarily pique my interest—all black and grey gradients with the faint portrayal of mountains in the background.

The taste: I normally steer clear of pinot noir–especially the somewhat cheaper bottles–because I find these wines to be a bit dull and flavorless. But, this one adds some body into the mix. It's very low tannin but also rich with a very obvious cherry core. Strawberries are less obvious, though I do get the tiniest hint of vanilla in the aftertaste—possibly related to the French oak.

The Exquisite Collection Chardonnay

a bottle of chardonnay next to a glass of wine
Photo: Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!

Like Specially Selected, Aldi's Exquisite Collection is another grouping of wines curated exclusively for the retailer. The chardonnay from the line is made from California grapes and I picked up a bottle with a harvest year of 2021 for a cost of $10.99. It describes itself as "rich on the palate with bright fruit and delectable brioche flavors. Perfectly balanced with hints of toasted almonds & spice." If you're wondering what "brioche flavors" are (like I was), this means the wine can have hints of butter, yeast, or even sweet pastry-like notes.

The look: This is one of those bottles I picked purely for its label. No shame, we all do it, and who doesn't love a charming label like this one with the little pastel-colored hot air balloon? As for the important part, the wine, it's a touch more golden and yellow-tinted than the Winking Owl chardonnay for a crisp and inviting look.

The taste: The front of the bottle brings me peace and tranquility, and this warm feeling carries over into the taste. It's smooth and simple without the assertive pungency and tartness of some of the other whites. Citrus seems to be a key player here, but no other specific fruit flavors stand out to me. My only qualm with the vino is that I always love to look for pronounced butteriness in chardonnays—a telltale sign of an oaked product—and I feel like that's missing here. I was able to smell a bit of a nutty or oaky aroma, but I don't think that transferred well into the flavor.

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Rolling Mist Cabernet Sauvignon

bottle of rolling mist red wine next to a glass of red wine
Photo: Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!

Competing with Winking Owl's cab, we have another selection from California sold under the name Rolling Mist. Its description reads, "Aromas of rich intense blackberry jam accompanied by notes of toasted oak and vanilla complement each other to finish for a fantastically velvety glass of wine." The term "fantastically velvety" is definitely enticing and what made me add this $8.99 bottle to my Aldi cart.

The look: The wine is an intensely deep color of burgundy, so dark that it almost appears inky. On the bottle, a rolling landscape shot of vineyards appears—perfectly fitting for the brand's name.

The taste: Upon first sniff, it's very berry-like, similar to sweet raspberries. This fruitiness continues into the taste, but it's also accompanied by a few savory notes as well, almost spicy or peppery. For some reason, I also couldn't shake the feeling that it tasted almost floral, especially near the end of each sip. Aside from taste, this was the first Aldi wine to make my mouth feel a little fuzzy from the tannins. And, while I wouldn't necessarily call it "velvety" it does drink quite nicely.

Landkastel Riesling

a bottle of riesling next to a glass of white wine
Photo: Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!

Representing Aldi's home country of Germany is the Landkastel Riesling–which I am fairly certain used to operate under the name Landshut. Either that or the chain is selling two nearly identical products under separate names. Anyway, the wine is a proper, balanced riesling with what the label calls a "fruity bouquet" and flavors of both peach and apricot. The bottle lands in the middle of the pack in terms of price at $8.99.

The look: The palest of all white wines in the taste test. But, honestly, I almost expected it to be crystal clear based on its long-necked, blue-tinted bottle that looks like it would contain fresh water straight from a bubbling stream in the Alps.

The taste: I would not label myself as a sweet wine enthusiast. But, this one had me changing my tune—likely because it is sweet but not overly so. I could pick up on the peach notes, though melon was another flavor that continued to come to mind as I finished off a glass. Overall, it's tasteful, quality, and doesn't leave you with a bitter or acidic taste in your mouth. What more could you possibly need in an $8.99 bottle of white wine?

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Dancing Flame Red Blend

a bottle of red wine next to a glass of red wine
Photo: Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!

A red blend is essentially a wine made up of multiple grape varieties all mixed together. This practice is common in the wine world and often makes for a more complex and intriguing drinking experience. Sold at Aldi, this particular Dancing Flame Red Blend is another award-winner. It's made up of 70% cabernet sauvignon, 20% carmenere, and 10% syrah, all from the Chilean Central Valley. Tasting notes include blackberry, cherry, spice, and a bit of mocha to finish. The bottle costs just $5.99, just a dollar more than the Winking Owl brand.

The look: Similar to the malbec in a shade of deep purply-maroon. It also has one of those labels that draws you in. I love the simplicity yet intricacy of the volcano line art standing out on a white background.

The taste: This was hands down my favorite bottle, even from the jump. It's juicy and teeming with various ripe berry flavors. It also achieves a great balance, as it's dry yet lively and tart but a touch bitter in the finish and aftertaste. I would compare it to one of 19 Crimes coveted red blends, a personal favorite of mine. At the same time, it's not quite on the level of Josh Cellar wines, another popular name in retail red wine. But, for a price of just $5.99 at Aldi, it's a product I might just have to add to my repertoire.

Megan Hageman
Megan is a freelance writer based in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Megan