I tried ALDI's new $5 wine — they're better than Trader Joe's “Two-Buck Chuck.”

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I love wine and I love ALDI, so I was really excited when I heard that ALDI had released a new wine collection, the California Heritage Collection. The line consists of eight different wine varieties/styles: two whites (Chardonnay and Moscato), two bubbly (Bert Sparkling and Extra Dry Sparkling), four reds (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Sweet Red) and one rosé. (Pink Moscato).

Each wine is $4.95, an affordable price point that can go with Trader Joe's Charles Shaw wines (formerly called “Two-Book Chuck” and now more like “Four-Book Chuck”). While ALDI's new wines are a dollar or so more expensive, the line boasts a few more options than TJ's budget wines. It's also a step up from ALDI's super affordable Winking Owl wine.

I decided to taste test some wines with some friends. I was joined by my friend Tony (an ALDI newbie) and his friend Sarah (an official ALDI nerd) as my fellow testers. Both Tony and Sarah have fine palates like wine and love a bargain.

We tasted four ALDI California Heritage wines and two TJ's Charles Shaw wines for comparison. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

Just recipes / Janet Hurt


Clear favorite: California Heritage Merlot

The first wine we tested was a Merlot. California Heritage hails from Modesto while Charles Shaw hails from Napa, both with 12.5% ​​to 13% ABV.

California Heritage was the clear winner. ALDI's merlot was bright and purple, full of berry aromas. I found Chuck dry on my palate with tannins so pronounced they were almost bitter. In contrast, California Heritage was smooth and easy to drink—a perfect patio pounder or a wine you'll want to toss into a summer sangria.

Other ALDI Wine Favorites

Next, we tasted two Chardonnays. Sarah found ALDI to be slightly more aromatic while Charles Shaw was more buttery. “I could be happy with any of them, but I give Charles Shaw my nod,” Tony said. Sarah also preferred Charles Shaw, but I like things on the lighter side if I'm drinking something other than expensive Chardonnay, so I gave ALDI the nod. It was a draw.

We tasted California Heritage Brut Sparkling Wine against Corbel Brut. Both had the same amount of bubbles. “ALDI is sweeter, and it gets easier,” Sarah said. Tony agreed. “Definitely, the ALDI one,” he said, though we all noted that the ALDI bottle didn't look so good. All California Heritage wines are screw top, while Charles Shaw and Corbel have corks. I preferred Korbel for its scent and body, but I can't deny what a great ALDI sparkler is – about $7 cheaper than Korbel.

Finally, we tasted the pink Moscato. It was sweet but not syrupy – definitely a sweet wine. I think this wine will satisfy a lot of Winking Owl consumers, as the line tends toward the sweet side. Still refreshing with some strawberry aromas, Moscato pairs really beautifully with chocolate. If you have berry pie or chocolate mousse, this would make a great pairing.

Just recipes / Janet Hurt


Able to buy cheap wine

We all enjoyed the ALDI California Heritage Collection, and our absolute favorite of the bunch was the Merlot. “As someone who doesn't normally shop at ALDI, I'll just go for these wines,” Tony said. And Sarah, who regularly shops at ALDI, definitely plans to add a few bottles to her cart the next time she goes shopping.

I liked the Merlot so much that I had to go back to the store to try the Pinot Noir. Like the Merlot, it was juicy with blackberry and raspberry aromas. Smooth and delicious, it paired beautifully with the salmon dish I made. I think I'll try the California Heritage Cabernet Sauvignon next.

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