I’m going to come right out and say it: I love Costco. I walk in, spend $200 on paper goods and brownie bites, and leave feeling like I'm on top of the world. But would you believe that Costco is more than just a purveyor of cheese wheels and jarred pesto? The big box behemoth is actually the #1 wine retailer in the world.
If your store is anything like mine, then the selection - like the price point - varies a great deal. In fact, there is so much turnover and variation from one Costco to the next that it is hard to pinpoint exactly what you should buy at your store. Nevertheless, I’ve got a few tips for buying wine in the greatest store on Earth - plus a list of some of my favorite finds to date.
How to Buy Good Wine at Costco
1. Determine your price point
Anytime you buy wine, have a general idea of what you are willing to spend. You can find a good bottle at pretty much any price point, so setting a budget is an important guidepost. Personally, I look for an overall good value, and I find that Costco has a lot of suitable wines to choose from for $20 or less. Read also: Is a $100 bottle better than a $20 bottle?
2. Plan ahead and stock up
Have you ever run out to grab a bottle on an impulse and found yourself paying too much for it? As long as you are shopping for wine in Costco, you might as well take your time and be methodical about it. Begin with an empty 12-pack box. Plan to grab 8 or 9 everyday-drinkers (that is, wines to open for any occasion), at least one sparkling wine, and one mid to high-end bottle.
3. Know what you like
Recently, I have liked Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and dry (not sweet) Riesling. And rosé…because real men do. But I also know that I like California reds, especially Cabernet blends and Zinfandel.
4. Try new things
The best way to discover if you like a particular wine is - as always - to go ahead and try it. The result can be hit or miss. Nonetheless, I almost always make a point to grab something new. That’s how I expand my palate.
5. Keep Google on the ready
Costco tends to keep prices steady between vintages, so if you have the choice between, say, a 2011 and a 2012 Cabernet from Napa Valley at the same price point, it helps to know that 2011 was only a so-so year. If you can retain facts about vintages, you’re all set. If not, there is no shame in asking your favorite search engine which year was best.
Another resource I like to use is Vivino. Vivino is an app that lets you take a picture of a label and get information about price and tasting notes.
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And now, a few of my favorites...
If your mantra is “rosé all day,” then these are the value wines your dreams are made of.
First up is Costco's Kirkland Signature Rosé. I've seen this priced from $5.99 to $7.99. It's best served very cold, paired with a light salad or pasta dish. Or, quite frankly, sipped on its own on a warm summer evening.
A very close runner-up is Pierre & Paul. The price point, as you can see here, is around $13 per bottle. It is light, crisp and subtle: everything you'd expect from a delicate French wine (except the cost).
When it comes to white wine, I typically lower my budget. Don't get me wrong - I love a good Sauv Blanc. I'm just not willing to pay Napa red prices for one. I've found that this Starmont Chardonnay and this Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc - both for under $15 - have everything I'm looking for in a light white wine. For the record, I just don't do buttery or sweet (unless it's a dessert wine).
If you happen to see the Kirkland Signature brand Champagne - buy, buy, buy! Don't think - just do. It is classic French bubbly: complex, sophisticated, and this one is a particularly good value. If I were blind-tasting this and guessing at its price, I would assume it was $40-$50, but in reality, it only costs $19.99.
Costco also carries an Italian Prosecco ($7). I always have two or three in the wine fridge because I am definitely NOT pouring orange juice into anything French. It is perfect for mimosas on Sunday-Funday, or for cocktails that call for Champagne.
When it comes to red wines, I tend to spend a little more - even at Costco. So I keep my eyes open for $20-$40 bottles, and I have plenty to choose from. I am familiar with the Saldo ($22.99), so I might get one of those and then something else I've never tried. Who knows - perhaps I'll find a new favorite.
On this particular trip, I managed to find a few reliable labels as well. Chimney Rock, Chateau Beaucastel, Dietz... all priced pretty decently. If you haven't heard me say it before, never hesitate to jump on a great deal when you see one.
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