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I have done all the hard work, so you can find the best Costco wine to up your wine game! Over the last year I have blind tasted all of the Kirkland Signature brand Costco wine. I’ve culled out all the duds and here I share with you the best of the best Costco wine.

Kirkland Signature Prosecco Rosé DOC (Veneto, Italy) $6.99

Fun fact! Prosecco only recently approved the use of “rosé” under the Prosecco name. 2021, is the first year we’re seeing Prosecco Rosé on the shelves. If you’re looking for a good Costco Kirkland sparkling wine, this is it. What can’t be beat is the price. Most opening price point Prosecco is about double this, usually $12-$15. So if you want to save a few bucks with your pink bubbles, Costco is the way to go.

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Blind-Tasting-Wine-Prosecco-Rosé

Kirkland Signature Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand) $6.99

For this one, I tasted the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and Costco wines together. I wanted to see if one of the most consumed wines on the planet held up to the Costco wine. Interestingly enough, the Costco wine was my favorite, as it is more balanced. And, you can’t beat the Costco wine price.

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Blind-Tasting-Wine-Marlborough-Sauv-Blanc

Kirkland Signature Chablis Premier Cru (Burgundy, France) $17.79

This one checked all the boxes for this sommelier. Chablis is made from the Chardonnay grape and tends to be made in a style with little (or no) oak influence. The Chardonnay grape really sings with Chablis, and this was no exception. This Costco wine is austere and has bracing acid. Everything you could want in a Chablis. This is perhaps my favorite Costco Chardonnay. Chablis Cha-blam!

Costco Wine Kirkland Signature Chablis Premier Cru

Kirkland Signature Pinot Grigio (Friuli, Italy) $4.99

There is a sea of unremarkable Pinot Grigio in this world, but in my opinion, this is the best Pinot Grigio at Costco. For starters, if you want to Up Your Pinot Grigio game, here are two things to look for on the label. Friuli is a smaller sub-area within the classic Pinot Grigio region. They’re known for making better, more interesting Pinot Grigio. Another thing to look for on the label is DOC Delle Venezie. Higher quality Pinot Grigio, usually for only a couple more bucks. Bottom line, at $4.99 (I can’t believe these Costco wine prices), this is your go to Pinot Grigio PORCH POUNDER.

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Blind-Tasting-Wine-Friuli-Pinot-Grigio

Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Chardonnay $6.99

Grocery store California Chardonnay at this price point is pretty terrible. It’s so oaky and buttery, you’d think you’re still living in 1994, in the heyday of oaky, buttery Chardonnay and AquaNet. This Costco Chardonnay is not gratuitous in its use of oak and malo notes (which is what gives the “buttery” feel), but it does have a starring role in the wine. So if you’re Cali Chardcore (see what I did there?), this wine is a steal at $7.

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Blind-Tasting-Wine-Sonoma-Chardonnay

Kirkland Signature Russian River Valley Chardonnay $12.99

The Costco brand wine here is a winner. The touch of oak here in this Costco Chardonnay felt like a nice warm hug. The Costco brand wine is a solid choice and one I would not hesitate the buy anytime I’m looking for the best Costco wines.

Kirkland Signature Barolo DOCG 2016 $19.99

I am still in sheer shock that Costco makes a Barolo in their private label. Shows you how much I know about Costco and their wine program! For the record, Barolo is one of the most revered and respected wines in the world, and usually with a price tag to match. Sure, you can find good quality Barolo in the $40-$50 range. But Costco Barolo at $20!??!! Crazy talk! Run, don’t walk, to grab a case of Costco Barolo. These are words I never thought I’d utter!

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Blind-Tasting-Wine-Barolo

Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley, Sonoma, CA) $9.99

Not too shabby with this Alexander Valley Costco wine Cabernet Sauvignon. And for the record, I got no problem with pyrazines, the green bell pepper note, typically found in Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has a healthy dose of pyrazines and I dig it. And at less than $10 a bottle, what’s not to love with this Costco wine?

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Blind-Tasting-Wine-Cabernet-Sauvignon-Alexander-Valley

Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, WA) $8.99

Another winner here for Costco wine Cabernet Sauvignon. A varietally correct wine at a killer price. We don’t need to overcomplicate things. This is good wine.

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Blind-Tasting-Wine-Cabernet-Sauvignon-Columbia-Valley

Kirkland Signature Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) $6.99

One of my favorite wines, as my family hails from Argentina. In Argentina, Malbec is as ubiquitous as water….it practically comes out of the water faucets! Malbec almost always hovers around the $10 range….so not a huge cost savings here, but still a solid Malbec wine Costco pick.

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Blind-Tasting-Wine-Mendoza-Malbec

Kirkland Signature Old Vine Zinfandel (Sonoma County, CA) 2018 $9.99

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

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Brand-Wine-Values-Kirkland-Signature-Old-Vine-Zinfandel-Sonoma-County-2018

Kirkland Signature Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $14.99

Another winner here for Kirkland Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. A great price for a simple, entry level Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. A super pleasant, drinkable, solid Costco wine.

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Brand-Wine-Values-Kirkland-Signature-Napa-Valley-Cabernet-Sauvignon-2018

Kirkland Signature Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône Valley, France) $22.99

This Châteauneuf-du-Pape Costco wine is a great damn bottle 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

Kirkland Signature Côtes du Rhône Villages (Rhône Valley, France) $6.99

Another SOLID Côtes du Rhône wine Costco bottle for you to add to the list. And the price, I mean, come on. If you compare this to pretty much ANY grocery store red at this price, this one will win. I bet you $100! Côtes du Rhône is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and really is the “original red blend”. Somewhere along the way in the last few years, consumers have fallen in love with red blends. Not sure why, but I think it’s the advertising and endcaps of crappy, commercial grocery store wines like Apothic, Menage a Trois, and others. Try this wine against any of those grocery store red blends and you’ll instantly taste that this is a superior Costco wine. It’s dry, fruity, and balanced, which is more than I can say for that cheap grocery store glug. This should be your go to under $10 bottle of house red.

Costco Wine Kirkland Signature Côtes du Rhône Villages 2020

Kirkland Signature Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG $7.99

Honestly, I cannot believe the price here for this Costco Chianti. DOCG signifies that we are at the top of the Italian quality pyramid. How the hell does a Costco wine do that for $7.99? A simple red sauce pasta would go perfectly with this Chianti Classico Riserva.

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Brand-Wine-Values-Kirkland-Signature-Chianti-Classico-Riserva-DOCG-2018

Kirkland Signature Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley $19.99

Hands down, this is the best Cabernet Sauvignon at Costco. With this Costco wine review, we are squarely in the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon category. Which isn’t for everyone! I’m talking about big juicy fruit, big tannin structure, high alcohol, extraction, essentially: more is more. That is what Napa Valley is known for. With this wine, we are specifically in Oakville, one of the sub AVAs of Napa Valley. Oakville is known for all of these big structural elements, but one of the key hallmarks of Oakville (and why it is so prized), is that their wines are known for having balance. None of the structural elements stand out and jut ahead of the others. I was so damn pleased with this wine, and would grab a megaphone if I had one, to tell you to go buy some now. How’s that for a positive Costco wine review! An insane and complex finish of coffee beans, cigar box, and sweet tobacco. Plus, this is only a 2019. I believe this wine has all of the elements to age and evolve beautifully. Seriously, go buy a case. And have one bottle a year for the next decade. You’re welcome.

virtual wine tasting

If you’re looking for more information on Costco wines, check out some of my past blogs below:

Costco Crowd Pleasers

Costco Brand Wine Values

Three More Costco Wines To Try

Costco Wine Review: Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon

Check out my article on Decanter:  Decanter Best: Costco Kirkland Signature Wines: Top Buys from the US

One of my early pandemic discoveries was Costco and I haven’t regretted it for a minute. 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, big hunks of cheese, and 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 the big ‘ol house I’ll own one day, where I can store all 36 cans of tomato sauce in the pantry! Though that is not happening now in my 1-bedroom apartment situation!

 

Costco Wine Review: Did You Know?

In case you didn’t know, Costco is the largest retailer of wine IN THE WORLD. Crazy, right? People always ask me about Costco brand wines, and I never had a meaningful reply, as I had never tried them. Once I got my membership, I decided to change that! In previous blog posts I conducted Costco wine reviews of their Kirkland brand wines. For most of them, I actually blind tasted with a group of friends to find out which were the Costco Crowd Pleasers and Costco Brand Wine Values. To date, these Costco wine review have been the most popular posts in the history of my blog!

Let’s get right to my Costco wine reviews of the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and the Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. 

 

Costco Wine Review: Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2019 $12.99

Before I begin this Costco wine review, let me share something that I think is helpful if you want to up your wine game. Pinot Noir is a very difficult grape to grow. A lot goes into ensuring its success in the vineyard which translates into good juice in the bottle. Pinot Noir has thin skins, which makes it susceptible to rot, mold, and mildew in the vineyard. Essentially this grape has to be treated with kid gloves from start to finish to ensure that you get a good wine in your glass. With that being said, I’ll say it once and I will say it again “it is very difficult to make good, cheap Pinot Noir”. And honestly this wine is no exception. I find this wine to be hollow with no mid palate. Super simple and no complexity. This wine tastes like a cheap grocery store, non-appellation Pinot Noir. A very basic wine. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that. I just think that for this to be a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, I am expecting a step up in quality than just good ol’ fashioned, basic Pinot Noir. I will let you decide if his Costco wine review will make you run out and buy it or if you’re going to pass. For me this one is a hard pass.

 

wine tasting los angeles

 

Costco Wine Review: Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2019 $19.99

With this Costco wine review, we are squarely in the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon category. Which isn’t for everyone! I’m talking about big juicy fruit, big tannin structure, high alcohol, extraction, essentially: more is more. That is what Napa Valley is known for. With this wine, we are specifically in Oakville, one of the sub AVAs of Napa Valley. Oakville is known for all of these big structural elements, but one of the key hallmarks of Oakville (and why it is so prized), is that their wines are known for having balance. None of the structural elements stand out and jut ahead of the others. I was so damn pleased with this wine, and would grab a megaphone if I had one, to tell you to go buy some now. How’s that for a positive Costco wine review! An insane and complex finish of coffee beans, cigar box, and sweet tobacco. Plus, this is only a 2019. I believe this wine has all of the elements to age and evolve beautifully. Seriously, go buy a case. And have one bottle a year for the next decade. You’re welcome.

 

virtual wine tasting

Check out my article on Decanter:  Decanter Best: Costco Kirkland Signature Wines: Top Buys from the US

One of my early pandemic discoveries was 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, big hunks of cheese, and 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 the big ‘ol house I’ll own one day, where I can store all 36 cans of tomato sauce in the pantry! That is not happening now in my 1-bedroom apartment situation!

The Unknown of Costco Wines

In case you didn’t know, Costco is the largest retailer of wine IN THE WORLD. Crazy, right? People always ask me about Costco brand wines, and I never had a meaningful reply, as I had never tried them. Once I got my membership, I decided to change that! In previous blog posts I reviewed 20 different Costco wines (the Kirkland brand). I actually blind tasted them with a group of friends to find out which were the Costco Crowd Pleasers and Costco Brand Wine Values. To date, these have been my two most popular posts in the history of my blog!

Today I review three more Costco Wines. The Three C’s, I’m calling them. We’ve got a: Champagne, Chablis, and Côtes du Rhône. 

Review of Costco Wines

 

Brut Champagne NV $19.99

This is THE elusive Costco Champagne. One of the most lauded Costco wines, if only for its value. Finding any other bottle of true Champagne at $20 (or less) would be a futile effort. I’m gonna cut to the chase here. If you are looking for a bone-dry Champagne with yeast autolysis (bready, toasty) notes, this is not that. If you are looking for an inexpensive Champagne and don’t mind a lighter and fresher style, this is that. The older I’ve gotten, the more I have realized I need those bready, yeasty, toasty notes in my life. If I want a lighter, fresher style of traditional method sparkling, personally I’m reaching for Cava or Cremant. There is nothing wrong with this Costco wine at all; it just doesn’t check my boxes. But I presume for many people who love their Champs and want to save a buck, they will be very happy with this purchase.

Costco Wine Kirkland Signature Champagne Brut

 

Chablis Premier Cru $17.79

I’m sure this Costco wine was vintaged. It just must have been on the back label, which I did not capture. Nobody’s perfect:/ In contrast to the Costco wine above, this one checked all the boxes. Chablis is made from the Chardonnay grape and tends to be made in a style with little (or no) oak influence. The Chardonnay grape really sings with Chablis, and this was no exception, This Costco wine is austere and has bracing acid. Everything you could want in a Chablis. Chablis Cha-blam!

Costco Wine Kirkland Signature Chablis Premier Cru

 

Côtes du Rhône Villages 2020 $6.99

Another SOLID Costco wine for you to add to the list. And the price, I mean, come on. If you compare this to pretty much ANY grocery store red at this price, this one will win. I bet you $100! Côtes du Rhône is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and really is the “original red blend”. Somewhere along the way in the last few years, consumers have fallen in love with red blends. Not sure why, but I think it’s the advertising and endcaps of crappy, commercial grocery store wines like Apothic, Menage a Trois, and others. Try this wine against any of those grocery store red blends and you’ll instantly taste that this is a superior wine. It’s dry, fruity, and balanced, which is more than I can say for that cheap grocery store glug. This should be your go to under $10 bottle of house red. 

Costco Wine Kirkland Signature Côtes du Rhône Villages 2020

Have you tried any Costco wines lately that you’ve loved? Drop me a note. I’d love to hear. One thing is for sure: Costco wine prices cannot be beat.

Check out my article on Decanter:  Decanter Best: Costco Kirkland Signature Wines: Top Buys from the US

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.

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Brand-Wine-Values-Kirkland-Signature-Toscana-IGT-2018

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.

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Brand-Wine-Values-Kirkland-Signature-Chianti-Classico-Riserva-DOCG-2018

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.

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Brand-Wine-Values-Kirkland-Signature-Old-Vine-Zinfandel-Sonoma-County-2018

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.

Brianne-Cohen-Costco-Brand-Wine-Values-Kirkland-Signature-Napa-Valley-Cabernet-Sauvignon-2018

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!

Check out my article on Decanter:  Decanter Best: Costco Kirkland Signature Wines: Top Buys from the US

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 recent trip, 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 branded wines, and I never had a meaningful reply, as I have not tried their wines. Upon reviewing the assortment, I counted 19 different Costco Kirkland brand wines in stock….and I grabbed one of each! I was shocked by their prices. Super low! $19 for a Barolo?!?!?!

The Experiment:

Purchase all of the Kirkland brand wines and taste them blindly against their branded counterparts (same grapes/regions). May the best wines win?

The Wines:

As I mentioned, I picked up 19 different Costco bottles. Today, we discuss 10 of the 19. Stay tuned for Part 2.

The Competition:

I selected comparable, branded wines to taste against the Costco wines. These wines were from the same region/appellation, were made with the same grape, and the same vintage.

The Tasters:

We had a group of 10 people. Two of us are classically trained in wine and tasted in the WSET Systematic Approach to Tasting (SAT) model. The other 8 people are regular wine consumers….no training. My pitch to them was to try each pair of wines and tell me which one they liked better.

The Results:

Does Costco stand up to the test? Read more to find out!

Are you ready to be floored? Out of the 10 wine pairs we poured that day, the Costco wine beat out the branded wine 8 out of 10 times!! SHOCKING, right?  6 of the Costco wines were “crowd pleasers”, meaning that more than half of the group selected that wine as their preference. And 2 of the wines were not crowd pleasers, but were the somm’s professional picks.

See below for the reveal!

Friuli, Italy Pinot Grigio $4.99 (CROWD PLEASER + SOMM SELECTION)

There is a sea of unremarkable Pinot Grigio in this world. We were all pleasantly surprised by this one. For starters, if you want to Up Your Pinot Grigio game, here are two things to look for on the label. Friuli is a smaller sub-area within the classic Pinot Grigio region. They’re known for making better, more interesting Pinot Grigio. Another thing to look for on the label is DOC Delle Venezie. Higher quality Pinot Grigio, usually for only a couple more bucks. Bottom line, at $4.99 (I can’t believe these prices), this is your go to Pinot Grigio PORCH POUNDER.

Sonoma Coast Chardonnay $6.99 (CROWD PLEASER + SOMM SELECTION)

Grocery store California Chardonnay at this price point is pretty terrible. It’s so oaky and buttery, you’d think you’re still living in 1994, in the heyday of oaky, buttery Chardonnay and AquaNet. This wine is not gratuitous in its use of oak and malo notes (which is what gives the “buttery” feel), but it does have a starring role in the wine. So if you’re Cali Chardcore (see what I did there?), this wine is a steal at $7.

Barolo DOCG 2016 $19.99 (CROWD PLEASER + SOMM SELECTION)

I am still in sheer shock that Costco makes a Barolo in their private label. Shows you how much I know about Costco and their wine program! For the record, Barolo is one of the most revered and respected wines in the world, and usually with a price tag to match. Sure, you can find good quality Barolo in the $40-$50 range. But Costco Barolo at $20!??!! And it beat out a branded producer, same vintage? Crazy talk! Run, don’t walk, to grab a case of Costco Barolo. These are words I never thought I’d utter!

Alexander Valley, Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon $9.99 (CROWD PLEASER + SOMM SELECTION)

Not too shabby with this Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. And for the record, I got no problem with pyrazines, the green bell pepper note, typically found in Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has a healthy dose of pyrazines and I dig it. And at less than $10 a bottle, what’s not to love?

Columbia Valley, WA Cabernet Sauvignon $8.99 (CROWD PLEASER + SOMM SELECTION)

Another winner here for Costco. A varietally correct wine at a killer price. We don’t need to overcomplicate things. This is good wine.

Mendoza, Argentina Malbec $6.99 (CROWD PLEASER)

One of my favorite wines, as my family hails from Argentina. In Argentina, Malbec is as ubiquitous as water….it practically comes out of the water faucets! Malbec almost always hovers around the $10 range….so not a huge cost savings here, but still a solid wine.

Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc $6.99 (SOMM SELECTION)

This is the only pair that I will reveal the branded wine. We blind tasted this wine next to Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. I wanted to see if one of the most consumed wine on the planet, held up to the Costco wine. Interestingly enough, the crowd chose the Kim Crawford, but the somms chose this Costco wine, if only for the fact that it is a more balanced wine. Take your pick.

Prosecco Rosé $6.99 (SOMM SELECTION)

Fun fact! Prosecco only recently approved the use of “rosé” under the Prosecco name. So, this year, 2021, is the first year we’re all seeing Prosecco Rosé on the shelves. This is another one here where the somm’s picked the Costco wine, but the crowd picked the branded wine. What can’t be beat is the price. Most opening price point Prosecco is about double this, usually $12-$15. So if you want to save a few bucks with your pink bubbles, Costco is the way to go.

And because you can’t win them all, it’s worth mentioning that the below 2 wines did not rank with either the crowd or the somms. I’d skip these, as you’ll be better off enjoying their branded counterparts.

Côtes de Provence $8.49

Rioja Reserva 2016 $7.99

Thanks for playing along, and stay tuned for Part 2 of my Costco Blind Tasting Bonanza!

Checkout my article on Decanter:  Decanter Best: Costco Kirkland Signature Wines: Top Buys from the US

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