If you read a lot about Aldi and you drink wine — or even if you don’t drink wine — you probably already know that Aldi wines are currently all the rage. Aldi wines are getting plenty of attention from major media outlets, and some of Aldi’s wine launches, especially around the holidays, have become events so big that they sell out within minutes.
To dig deeper into the Aldi wine scene, we reached out to fellow blogger and writer Jon Thorsen. Jon is the founder of the wine review blog Reverse Wine Snob and author of the book Reverse Wine Snob: How to Buy and Drink Great Wine without Breaking the Bank.
Reverse Wine Snob’s mission is, to quote Jon: “to liberate you to enjoy the wines you love on their own terms, whether it be ‘wine snob’ approved or not.” Jon is a wine enthusiast for regular people who are on a regular budget, which we thought made him the perfect person to talk to about Aldi wines.
Aldi Reviewer: Talk a little about your site, Reverse Wine Snob, and how it came to be.
Reverse Wine Snob: Reverse Wine Snob was born over 8 years ago, basically on a whim. I didn’t know a whole lot about wine, but had always heard that you had to spend at least $20 a bottle to get something decent. With a background in economics and quite a frugal streak, that didn’t sit real well with me and I decided to put it to the test. Much to my delight, I discovered a whole world of delicious inexpensive wine. Thinking that there were probably quite a few other people in a similar situation who would drink wine much more frequently if they knew they didn’t have to spend an arm and a leg, I started chronicling my finds at Reverse Wine Snob.
AR: How did you first get your exposure to Aldi wines?
RWS: I’m relatively new to Aldi wine because unfortunately there are no Aldi locations in the state that I live in (MN) that sell wine. This is thanks to some of the ridiculous liquor laws dating all the way back to the end of Prohibition. My Trader Joe’s and Costco lists are extremely popular and after getting request after request from readers to do the same for Aldi, I finally started taking a road trip to the closest Aldi that sells wine, across the border in Wisconsin!
AR: Tell us a little about some of your personal favorite Aldi wines, and what you liked about them.
RWS: I love Spanish wines and the La Cornada Tempranillo is rather amazing for just $4.50. Producing a quality wine at this low of a cost is extremely hard to do, just the price of the bottle and shipping costs alone eat up a good chunk.
Another good one is the Adventure Series Chianti. This is a solid pick for pizza night, with authentic Chianti character for just $5.50. Fans of earthy Pinot Noirs, on the other hand, will definitely enjoy the William Wright Reserve Pinot Noir.
As far as whites go, for whatever reason Aldi has a number of really excellent Sauvignon Blancs. The Dancing Flame from Chile and the Exquisite Collection Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (review not yet posted) are both excellent. Pinot Grigio fans will enjoy the $9 Villanella and the Sienna Glen is a surprisingly solid Chardonnay for less than $7.
AR: Are there any Aldi wines you didn’t like as much?
RWS: As I mentioned above, once you get below about $4, it’s really hard to make a decent wine. As such, I haven’t found any of the Aldi wines at that price point that I can recommend. Another one I tried recently and was not impressed with was the $6 Crystal Creek Riesling from Washington State, which has a label very reminiscent of the popular Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling ($7), but is nowhere near the same quality.
AR: How do you think Aldi wines compare to Aldi’s distant cousin, Trader Joe’s?
RWS: While Aldi and Trader Joe’s have a similar model in terms of a focus on private label brands, Trader Joe’s has a much, much wider selection of wine. It’s funny because the Aldi UK division, which is also operated by Aldi Sud just like the US Aldi stores, has an amazing selection of wines. I keep hoping they will bring more of those here to the USA! Until they do, the selection at Trader Joe’s beats Aldi pretty handily.
AR: What advice would you give our readers as they venture down the Aldi wine aisle?
RWS: We always encourage people to experiment and try new things. In the wine world many of the wines with the best value will not be the big, popular varieties like Cabernet or Chardonnay from California. Don’t be afraid to try the grape you’ve never heard of from the place you’ve never heard of! (Also, we offer a free 5 day email course entitled “How To Drink Great Wine…Without Breaking The Bank” to help people get started off on the right foot.)
AR: A final question — are there any non-wine products that you like to get from Aldi?
RWS: If you’re drinking wine, you need some cheese to go with it! Aldi has a nice selection of artisan cheeses we like to try out. We’ve also been known to grab some of their European chocolates!