Hosting a holiday soiree doesn't have to be expensive! Digital food editor Karla Walsh is spilling her entertaining secrets for a Thanksgiving-worthy wine selection that won't bust your budget.

By Karla Walsh
September 19, 2018

If you’re planning a Thanksgiving get-together, listen up! This year, skip the expensive wine aisle and head straight to your local Trader Joe’s for a delicious selection of the best cheap wines. They have whites, reds, and everything in between—all for under $15. The best part is, no one has to know how little you spent.

I’m Karla Walsh, an associate digital food editor for Better Homes & Gardens, and I’ve rounded up the best cheap wines from Trader Joe’s so you can be confident you’re getting the best flavors at prices that won’t break your budget.

As a level one sommelier, amateur party hostess (but pro charcuterie devourer), and lover of all things culinary- and entertaining-related, I’ve learned a few tricks about wine shopping. I used to review restaurants, so I’ve been lucky to have many wine-paired meals. While getting paid to dine out is a pretty sweet gig, there’s something even more magical about sharing a meal with friends and family at home.

I know firsthand that it’s often more enticing financially to host a party at home rather than make a reservation! Take the wine list: Did you know that the cost of a glass of wine at most restaurants is what they pay for a bottle at wholesale? It’s true!

This is where Trader Joe's comes in. I'm going to give you a tour of some of my favorite cheap Trader Joe's wines under $15. They're super affordable, and taste just as good as the $15-a-glass pours you’ll get at the fancy bistro down the street. Stock up on these delicious cheap wines before your Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or holiday-of-your-choice bash!

Best bold red: Mindiarte Rioja Reserva 2012 ($9.99)

This bottle is filled with 100 percent Tempranillo grapes for a bold yet silky red that will leave its cocoa, raspberry, and black cherry flavors lingering even after you swallow. Serve it with the entree course—the tannins and slightly savory elements will work wonderfully with a variety of spices.

Best crisp white: Espiral Vinho Verde ($4.49)

Can’t decide between classic white wine and sparkling wine? Try this crisp, refreshing and ever-so-slightly-effervescent Portuguese wine. It’s low in alcohol and high in acidity, making it ideal for serving with a variety of foods (think: cocktail hour!). Pour a glass from this ridiculously budget-friendly bottle and you’ll notice green apple, lime, and melon flavors.

Best semi-sweet white: Kung Fu Girl Riesling ($10.99)

This is not your mama’s super-sweet white wine! With apricot, orange, and peach notes, Riesling has become a food-pairing darling of many sommeliers—and for good reason. This Washington-grown option exhibits the varietal’s nice mix of acidity and juiciness, which balances the sometimes heaviness of a holiday meal.

Best fruity red: Chateau Haut Pougnan Vin de Bordeaux 2016 ($8.99)

This versatile, affordable French red blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and other classic Bordeaux grapes. It’s berry-forward with balanced tannins, so it will stand up to rich meats and indulgent sides without overwhelming the soup course. It tastes a bit like a mash-up of plum and black currant.

Best medium-bodied red: Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone ($10.99)

Made with a mix of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah, this medium-bodied red is a step past the Bordeaux in terms of weight and intensity. It smells a bit like caramel but tastes straight up like cherry jam (with a dash of vanilla). This can hold its own against your boldest Thanksgiving flavors.

Best Italian blend: Banfi Chianti Classico DOCG 2016 ($13.99)

Aged in oak for a hint of warm spice flavor, this blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Canaiolo Nero is a pretty classic Chianti—making it a great fit if you come from a big Italian family that starts Thanksgiving with a pasta course. You’ll taste some cherries and plums in this fairly low-alcohol (12.5 percent) red wine, which also makes it a delicious choice for a pre-dinner charcuterie board.

Best champagne: La Burgondie Cremant de Bourgogne Rose Brut ($11.99)

I couldn’t forget the bubbles, of course! Cremant, the cheaper doppelganger of Champagne, is fresh and delicate. This one exhibits strawberry and apple notes, has the just-right amount of acidity, and tastes like it should be twice as expensive. Try it with cheese! Or pie!

Don't see the bottle you want on the shelf at your Trader Joe's? Head to the customer service desk and ask them to order it for you—or order online! Keep in mind that local liquor laws may impact availability in your state.

Now it’s your turn! Show me your favorite holiday wines using #HowIHoliday.


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