December 8, 2021

Costco Brand Wine Values

One of my pandemic discoveries has been Costco. I don’t recall what drove me to get a membership…but I just strolled in one day and signed up. I’m in a household of two people, so I wasn’t sure if I’d get to take full advantage of things. Boy was I wrong! Our favorites now are the proteins, toilet paper(!), and the fun snacks (the Korean BBQ jerky is a hit). Every time I go, I seem to discover something new. And Aaron hates going, so it’s shopping alone time that I love. Sometimes I stroll the aisles fantasizing about that country farmhouse I’ll own one day, where I can store all 36 cans of tomato sauce in the pantry! I’m sure you can relate.

On a trip early in the Fall, I made my way to the wine section. In case you didn’t know, Costco is the largest retailer of wine IN THE WORLD. I’ve had people ask me about Costco brand wines, and I never had a meaningful reply, as I have not tried their wines. Upon reviewing the assortment, I counted 19 different Costco brand wines in stock….and I grabbed one of each! Who knew that Costco wine selections were so varied. I was also shocked by their prices. Super low! $19 for a Barolo?!?!?! One thing is for sure: Costco wine prices cannot be beat.

A couple of weeks ago we held our second Costco blind tasting bonanza. If you missed the first one, it was a hoot and the results were staggering. Costco brand wines came out as crowd pleasers 8 out of 10 times.

Costco Wine Tasting: The Set Up

Purchase all of the Costco brand wines I can find at my local Costco. We ended up with eight bottles. Pair said wines with a value priced branded wine of the same region/appellation.

Costco Wine Tasting: The Challenge

Serve the pairs of wine blind to a small test group of good old fashioned, regular wine drinkers. 11 people in total. Ask them which they prefer.

Costco Wine Tasting: The Results

The Costco wines were the preferred wines of the group 6 out of 8 times, but not overwhelmingly. Let me explain. Four out of those six times, the differential was one vote only. So in essence, if I am distilling the results from this tasting, the Costco brand wines and the branded wines were almost even. But what is compelling is that Costco wine prices were approximately half the price of most of the branded options. So for a good value AND solid wines, Costco brand wines are the way to go.

Below are the full details!

Kirkland Signature Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2019 $12.99

The Costco brand wine here was the winner but by only one vote. Personally I prefer the branded Chardonnay (Hartford was the brand) which had a touch of oak that felt like a nice warm hug. But when you look at the price differential of $12.99 vs $23.95, you start wondering is that warm hug worth it? The Costco brand wine is a solid choice here.

Kirkland Signature Toscana IGT 2018 $14.99

Full disclosure: no one really loved either of these wines. Same with the Chianti Classico below. In any case, the Costco brand wine did beat out the branded wine 7 votes to 4 votes. Toscana IGT is the base of the Italian quality pyramid, signifying a simple table wine. I think these wines were both a little too rustic for the group, so my advice would be to enjoy them with food. Pizza would be perfect.

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Kirkland Signature Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2018 $7.99

Costco was also the winner here by only one vote. Honestly, I cannot believe the price here. DOCG signifies that we are at the top of the Italian quality pyramid. How the hell do they do that for $7.99? And for the record, the Costco brand wine won here, and it was half the price of the branded wine. A simple red sauce pasta would go perfectly.

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Kirkland Signature Old Vine Zinfandel Sonoma County 2018 $9.99

Another winner here for Costco (also for half the price of the branded wine). Lots of deep juicy plump fruit on this Sonoma Old Vine Zin. This is the perfect wine to cash in with your barbecue take out. Here in LA that means Bludso’s BBQ. It’s a way of life.

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Kirkland Signature Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 $14.99

Another winner here for Costco. A great price for a simple, entry level Napa Vally Cabernet Sauvignon. This actually was my favorite red of the entire tasting, super pleasant and drinkable.

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Kirkland Signature Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2019 $22.99

Costco is the overwhelming winner here with 8 votes out of 11. A great damn wine at only $22.99. If you are interested in trying some Old World classic wine regions, Costco is an easy place to start, and this Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a perfect example. That way you don’t have to fuss with knowing producers and trying to read French and what not. Try classic wine regions at Costco and if you like something, then venture to your local wine shop and say “hey I just recently discovered _____, what have you got?

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Brand-Wine-Values-Kirkland-Signature-Châteauneuf-du-Pape-2019

And these were the two Costco brand wines that did not win the vote. You can’t win them all!

Kirkland Signature Asolo Prosecco DOCG $6.99

Asolo is a higher quality level of Prosecco from Italy. As I’ve always said, there is a sea of unremarkable Prosecco in the world, DOCG is the way to go if you want a step up from your basic bitch Prosecco.

Kirkland Signature Stag’s Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2019 $23.99

This one is still compelling, because it only lost by one vote. The branded wine was three times the price at $64.99. That was literally the cheapest Stag’s Leap I could find. I think it would be worth a try for someone who wants to explore higher quality Napa Cab, but without the price tag.

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Brand-Wine-Values-Kirkland-Signature-Stag’s-Leap-District-Cabernet-Sauvignon-Napa-Valley-2019

Ok, so what do we do with this information?

For one, drink these wines at home, no problem.

Would I bring a Costco brand wine as a gift or to a housewarming? Hell no. People love their Costco, but not that much. You still want to bring something you feel comfortable with, proud of. Just because you know Costco brand wines are solid, doesn’t mean your host does!

Would I serve Costco brand wines if I was hosting? It depends. If it is a wine-centric group, probably not. In those cases, it’s more fun to showcase interesting bottles with a story behind them. Perhaps wines picked up on a recent wine country trip, an obscure grape, or a female-lead winery that I love.

If the group is made up of some wine drinkers, some not, and people who don’t take themselves too seriously. Then heck yes! Basically people who wouldn’t turn to their husband on the way home and say “can you believe they served Costco wines?!?”

I think Costco brand wines can actually be a talking point! “Hey <insert friends name> I just read these articles by a world-renowned (this part is optional) wine expert named Brianne, and she found some amazing crowd pleasers in the Costco bunch…let’s try them out and see what everyone thinks!” THAT is the spirit!

Costco Wine Tasting: Bottom line

Costco wines are CHEAP and they’re solidly good. The Costco wine prices stand on their own. So if you’re shopping the Costco aisles, and your wine cupboards are bare, grab a few solid bottles and save a few bucks.

Next up: last week I spied three new Costco brand wines I hadn’t reviewed yet. I’ll be tasting those and sharing the results in the new year. Also, I’ll be compiling my favorites into your one stop shop Costco Brand Wine Buying Guide. And I’ll share with you when to best enjoy each of these wines. I.e. with a winter stew, whilst Netflix and chilling, before dinner, or on its own.

Cheers!

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you’re looking to Up Your Wine Game and Drink Better, consider booking a private in-person or virtual wine tasting experience.
Brianne Cohen Wine Educator
Brianne Cohen is a certified sommelier, wine educator, consultant, and writer based out of Los Angeles.

Since March 2020, Brianne has educated and entertained over 5,000 people through her “Virtual Vino” online wine tastings.

Brianne holds the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Diploma certificate, one of the most coveted wine certifications in the world. When she’s not helping others Up Their Wine Game, she can be found judging at international wine competitions.

Brianne aims to make wine approachable and conversational, to surprise and delight with unexpected, distinctive wine finds, and to give people knowledge (and confidence) about wine in their everyday lives.

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Sample Policy

As a wine writer, I frequently accept samples for review on my  website and on my social media channels. Please contact me at brianne@briannecohen.com to discuss sending samples for review. I promise to always be honorable with the samples. I will evaluate all wines in good tasting settings and with no distractions.

All reviews are my opinions, and mine only. Because of the volume of samples I receive, I cannot promise that all samples received will be reviewed, but I will do my best.

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