My appreciation for wine blossomed at Trader Joe’s. In my early 20s, when I began having friends over to my tiny apartment for dinner parties, I’d frequent the wine aisles looking for budget-friendly bottles. The helpful crew members always pointed me in the right direction, inspiring me to try wine varietals and regions that were new to me, yet approachable without breaking the bank.
While my price point has gone up a bit since those days, I still consider Trader Joe’s a reliable friend when it comes to what I like to call “weeknight wine.” I might splurge elsewhere on special occasion bottles, but you can’t really beat their curated, well-priced selection for the everyday.
So I was thrilled to grab a little insider wine-shopping tip when listening to a recent episode of the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast. In it, hosts Tara Miller and Matt Sloan, marketing executives at Trader Joe’s, explored the wide world of wine at Trader Joe’s and how it’s uniquely approached at the store. They also shared one brilliant shopping tip for buying the best bottles in the store that’s well worth remembering for your next trip.
The Best Wine at Trader Joe’s Is in Stacks
In the middle of every wine section at Trader Joe’s is what crew members call the “stacks.” They’re exactly what they sound like: Open cases of wine stacked on top of each other on display.
Occasionally, they may be arranged nicely on decorative wine barrels or shelves. Regardless, these stacks are meant to catch your eye for good reason—the wines are crew members’ favorites, the ones they’re genuinely excited about and want to share with shoppers.
You’ll find brief notes jotted down about the wine and what it tastes like and often, a picture of the crew member who recommends it. These aren’t pricey bottles the store is trying to push. Instead, they’re the bottles that crew members love and take home themselves. Consider them recommendations from friends—and they’re always very reasonably priced.
“In whatever store, whatever Trader Joe’s you shop in, the stacks are the wines that sell at the highest rate, at the fastest rate. So you can probably be sure those are gonna be really good,” says Miller. So if you’re overwhelmed by the wine selection in the store and don’t really know where to start, skip the aisles and head to the stacks.
On my last visit to my local Trader Joe’s, there were multiple stacks to check out. One featured an Italian Barbera D’Asti for a mere $5.99 and a Hungarian Grüner Veltliner for $7.49. Both the medium-bodied Italian red wine and the latter, a light, very crisp white wine, have long been two of my favorite varietals because of how food-friendly they are.
Barbera is my go-to for all pizza (takeout included) and I love pairing Grüner Veltliner with everything from salads to spicy Indian curries. I picked up a bottle of each.
In another stack, I was excited to see one staff member, Scott, wax poetic about my own go-to $11.99 bottle of Prosecco, which I already had in my cart. “It’s almost a shame to mix this one for mimosas unlike most Prosecco,” Scott wrote. He’s right, though it’s also really, really great in an Aperol spritz.