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I Tried 15 Kirkland-Brand Costco Wines & the Best Was Cheap and Easy Drinking

From undrinkable to a new weeknight favorite, these are the wines to stock (and skip) from the retailer.

The Kirkland Signature brand is prevalent throughout the Costco warehouse, and the wine department is no exception. There are usually a dozen or so different varietals carrying the Kirkland moniker in the wine department. These wines vary from the classic 750 milliliters to boxed wine to 1.5-liter selections.

Compared to other Kirkland Signature products, there is more of a stigma around grabbing a Costco private-label wine, especially with many selling for less than $10. My testers and I decided we would be wary of bringing a bottle to a friend's house or party, even if it were stellar.

Now, it's rumored that good producers make the wines. You can sleuth by looking at the "bottled by" part of the label, which often lists the distributor and not the actual winemaker, but you'll have to dive deep.

If you can get past the labels, there are some highly coveted wines in the warehouse if you know what to look for. The popular blog Reverse Wine Snob has a list of what is released when, although I can tell you they didn't necessarily line up with what I saw in the store.

To determine which wines were worth adding to the cart and which were not, I grabbed a few wine-drinking comrades to taste-test 15 varieties of Costco wine.

I am not a sommelier, and wine taste preferences are subjective, so keep that in mind as you go through this list.

Here are the best, the worst, and the pretty undrinkable selections from the ones we tried.

Kirkland Signature Pinot Noir 2022

kirkland pinot noir glass and bottle on table.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

I drink a lot of pinot noir. Although I am partial to the Willamette Valley pinots because they usually carry a lot more depth, I never expected that I would rank any pinot noir at the very bottom of the list, but here we are. Though relatively inexpensive at just $11.99, this varietal from California's Russian River Valley was actually one of the higher-priced wines we tried. You don't always get a ton of complexity with a lighter red, but this had none. According to the Reverse Wine Snob, the 2022 vintage was made by a different winemaker than earlier versions but holds pretty true to past vintages. Too bad.

The look: A deep plum color, this wine was darker than your average pinot noir—certainly darker than a typical California pinot.  When swirled in your glass, a clear ring of alcohol around it was nearly visible.

The taste: You know that burn you get from drinking bourbon or whiskey where you can feel the alcohol going down your throat? Maybe it's good for those spirits, but it's a hard no when you get that taste from a wine. Unfortunately, that was the aftertaste of this wine, with notes of sweet grape juice on the front end and pure alcohol on the back.

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Kirkland Signature Chardonnay 2022

Costco's Kirkland Signature chardonnay bottle and glass on table.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

I am not a regular chardonnay drinker, but I appreciate a good one every now and then. This was not it. I would expect a little more buttery chardonnay, as this one comes from California's renowned Sonoma County wine-making region, and I wouldn't have minded that it wasn't buttery (if the wine tasted good), especially for $7.99 a bottle.

The look: The pour was lighter in color than some other chardonnay with a few bubbles on top. It's not effervescent like a sparkling wine, but the pour came out with some bubbles.

The taste: As mentioned, this isn't your average buttery chard. I'd characterize it more in taste like a sauvignon blanc with crisper, fruitier notes. It would have ranked higher, except that it left a weird aftertaste after each sip.

Kirkland Signature Sauvignon Blanc 2022

Costco's kirkland signature sauvignon blanc glass and bottle on a table.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

When I was shopping for wines, a helpful man in the wine department told me that the sauvignon blanc was the best-selling Kirkland Signature wine. After all, what other wine has a nickname? Yes, talking to you, Savvy B. I expected this $7.49 best-seller to rank higher on the list.

The look: It was very light in color, even a little lighter than you'd expect a typical sauvignon blanc to be.

The taste: I know that New Zealand sauv blancs can be tart, but this was extremely tart and heavier than you'd expect an easy sipper to be, but with a weird aftertaste. I expected that to be the holy grail in easy summer drinking, but alas, I couldn't drink more than a few sips. One of my tasters described it as having a "sour milk taste," and nobody wants that out of wine.

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Kirkland Signature Pinot Grigio 2022

Costco's Kirkland Signature pinot grigio bottle and glass on table.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

A bottle of wine for $4.99? How could it possibly be good? Although this pinot grigio wasn't the best we tried, it held its own in the middle of the pack. It didn't have a remarkable flavor like some of the other wines; it tasted like I'd imagined a slightly watered-down wine to taste.

The look: Very light in color, a pale yellow.

The taste: This was not offensive, but it lacked any real flavor and fell flat on the finish. If you wanted a nice light option for guests, you could get away with it, especially for people who don't drink wine often, but it wouldn't be the bottle I'd reach for.

Kirkland Signature Chardonnay 2022 1.5 Liter

Costco's Kirkland Signature vintage chardonnay glass and bottle on table.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

I did not expect the larger bottle of chardonnay for $8.99 to be the better of the two, but it was. Results were mixed among our tasters, but I'm ranking it slightly higher as there wasn't anything wrong with it—even if it wasn't our flavor palate. I could see those who gulp chardonnay on the regular or a younger crowd buying this in droves. The price point is right, and it's easy drinking.

The look: It looked like your typical chardonnay when poured, slightly more hued pale yellow.

The taste: This was pretty tropical-tasting, as per the tasting notes on the bottle. I didn't mind it; other tasters felt that it was a turnoff. They aren't the flavors that are always pronounced in a chardonnay. I wouldn't pair it with food like some of the others, but I could see this being a patio pounder, Spring Break sidekick—it goes down easy enough for those who want a nightly glass.

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Kirkland Signature Moscato D'Asti

Costco's Kirkland Signature moscato glass and bottle by fireplace.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

I don't like sweet wine at all, so I had to adjust my brain to taste an inherently sweet wine, making sure to taste this as someone who enjoyed sweeter wines. The price point of $7.99 is good, too.

The look: The bottle was the prettiest of the bunch, with pink and purple flowers, and I wouldn't mind gifting it to someone who liked this type of wine. The wine itself was a pale yellow with nice effervescence throughout.

The taste: The smell and taste were very floral and oh-so sugary sweet, but the bubbles cut through a little of the sweetness. Again, it's not my cup of tea, but I know a few people who would adore this wine.

Kirkland Signature Asolo Prosecco

kirkland prosecco glass and bottle by a fireplace.
Photo: Samantha Lande, Eat This, Not That!

This is a solid prosecco at a price point that's hard to beat at $7.99. It deserves a spot on the brunch table to be mixed for mimosas or bellinis. It wasn't my favorite of the sparkling options in this survey, but only because the other two were better. This one wasn't bad.

The look: Nice light color with beautifully mesmerizing bubbles throughout the glass.

The taste: Although a bit on the sweeter side, this was a decent pick for a prosecco, a little fruity on the nose and easy to drink with good bubbles. There's nothing acidic about it; I'd add it to a brunch table or pour it for a toast.

Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Boxed Wine 1 Liter

A box and glass of Costco's Kirkland Signature cabernet sauvignon on table.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

When choosing between wine in a bottle or a box, I will grab the bottle every time. Combine the stigma around boxed wine with the stigma of a Kirkland Signature pick for $14.99, and you have a recipe for non-interest. I know Costco carries other cabs, but they weren't available when I purchased the wine. Lo and behold, I was surprised in a good way.

The look: Pouring out of a box lacks sophistication, and the extreme flow of the wine causes some bubbling on top. It was a nice deep purple, like a cab sav should be.

The taste: I'd classify this as a good house wine. It's better than many bottles (and certainly better than your typical boxed wine), but it doesn't carry the full body and depth you want from a cab. It is easy drinking, though, and it goes down easy. This isn't winning awards, but it may win a Tuesday night.

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Kirkland Signature Rioja Reserva 2019

Costco's Kirkland Signature rioja wine bottle and glass on table.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

Reserve wines, especially those in Europe, must meet certain standards even if they are a $7.99 bottle. The wine is made from 100 percent tempranillo grapes and is aged in oak barrels for 30 months, followed by six months in the cellar.

The look: This wine has a nice deep ruby red coloring, almost jewel-toned.

The taste: The smell of this wine was more tobacco and leather, but the taste was big-bodied and jammy, but not overly sweet. The flavor would change with more time and pair well with a meal.

Kirkland Signature Brut Champagne

Costco's kirkland signature champagne bottle and glass by fireplace.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

The brut champagne was the most expensive bottle we tried, but at $19.99, it was low-priced compared to other French champagnes. I'd call myself the occasional champagne drinker, more for celebratory moments. This would be a good champagne to kick off a dinner party or when a toast is in order.

The look:  Nice effervescence fills the golden champagne, almost a light caramel color. It looks just how you'd want it to in a flute.

The taste: This was a good champagne. Good mouthfeel, slightly drier, well balanced. It can go well with or without food.

Kirkland Signature Prosecco Rosé 

A bottle and glass of Costco's Kirkland Signature prosecco rose on a table.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

Rosé means summer is on the way, even if Costco won't stock still rosé for another month or so. For $7.99, it's hard to pass up this sparkling version of prosecco rosé that would work well for al fresco dining or just al fresco imbibing.

The look: Beautiful pale pink color with a nice smattering of bubbles.

The taste:  The finish on this rosé is a bit sweeter than one you may find from the renowned rosé region of Provence, France, but food helps to balance that out. It's lightly fruity in flavor and the small bubbles add a nice carbonation to the mouthfeel.

Kirkland Signature Bordeaux Supérieur 2021

Costco's Kirkland Signature Bordeaux glass and bottle on table.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

This big, bold wine, made of 60% cabernet sauvignon and 40% merlot, is aged in oak barrels for a year. For $6.89, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything like it outside of Costco.

The look: A very dark, deep purple hue fills the glass. A nice weight to the wine.

The taste: This wine is big and has layers of complexity, but it needs a minute to open up. Without a few minutes decanted, it's not as enjoyable. The flavors of the cabernet shine through. It's drier with good tannins and flavors of blackberry and cherry.

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Kirkland Signature Old Vine Zinfandel 2021

Costco's Kirkland Signature Old Vine Zinfandel bottle and glass on table.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

An "old vine" zinfandel should be made with fruit from vines more than 50 years old, but it's not enforced like other regulations, and Costco's version comes from 45-year-old vines. Close enough! The Kirkland version of this wine tends to rank highly, according to the online Costco Wine Blog.

The look: A nice deep reddish purple like you'd expect a zin to be.

The taste: Jammy and full like a good zin should. A slight tartness but good berry flavor with a rounding of spice at the end.

Kirkland Signature Chianti Classico Riserva 2021

Costco's Kirkland Signature chianti bottle and glass on table.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

Chianti was one of the first wine regions I visited, so I have a soft spot for the wine. I have a notoriously tough time picking out a bottle I like stateside. Chianti is meant to be paired with food, like a good table wine, and not necessarily drunk alone. This version is a DOCG wine, a classification meant to be slightly higher than your typical Italian DOC wine, which means a panel of judges tastes it to ensure it's up to standard before bottling. I'll pair an $8.99 DOCG wine with pizza or pasta any night.

The look:  A nice ruby red coloring on this wine with a lighter body.

The taste: As suspected, this wine needs food, but it's great when paired with something to eat. Easy drinking just like the Italians prefer. Its good acidity and flavor aren't overpowering to take away from the food.

Kirkland Signature Malbec 2022

Costco's Kirkland Signature malbec glass and bottle on table.
Photo: Samantha Lande/Eat This, Not That!

After making my way through a few discouraging selections along this journey, I found this malbec to be like a diamond in the rough. I was a little turned off by the 91-point James Suckling sticker on the bottle. (I'm all for awards, but do we need a sticker?) Even so, I have to give this wine credit. For $6.99, I would stock up on this for easy weeknight drinking.

The look: Nice deep purple.

The taste: This wine is full of flavor and leaves a nice soft finish lingering on your tongue (versus the harsher alcoholic finish on some of the other selections). It has lovely plum and blackberry flavors with a little oaky vanilla finish. This would work well with or without food.

Samantha Lande
Samantha is a freelance writer who covers food, health, wellness and other lifestyle subjects. Read more about Samantha