Expedition to Trader Joe’s

On a recent trip to the metro New York City area (mostly New Jersey), I had a chance to (finally!!) visit a Trader Joe’s in person. I’d long been aware of the chain from their well-known exclusive on Charles Shaw wines, aka Two Buck Chuck. Surprisingly, I completely bypassed the Chuck display and was entranced by the best selection of inexpensive and unique wines I’ve seen in ages. Regular readers of Box Wines know that I try to find great wine values – decent wines for everyday drinking, preferably below $10 per bottle though I do stretch the range at times. In my local shops, I’ve almost exhausted the available varieties – virtually all of the mass market brands tend to show up in all the stores, and, other than re-reporting on the same wines from different years, I’ve been reduced to watching for new introductions. I was stunned to find so many unique varieties at Trader Joe’s. They had a few familiar brands, but many others that I haven’t encountered at all. Amazingly, dozens of these were well under $10 per bottle.

The explanation lies at the Trader Joe’s website:

Our Buyers travel to the far reaches of the globe in search of outstanding wines and beers we can sell at great prices. A visit to our store will reveal an ever-changing assortment of fine wines that are excellent values. Sometimes these wines come and go quickly – what you find today may be gone tomorrow, replaced with yet another terrific value vino.

I’m of the opinion that this isn’t just hyperbole. I left with a case and some loose bottles, and could have filled up a few more cases with unique value-priced wines had I been so inclined. (Oddly, they carry no boxed wines at all, at least in the store that I visited.) So far, the couple of wines I’ve tried have been very nice. I’m envious of those readers who live close to a Trader Joe’s. I’ll keep reporting on my finds there – if YOU have a favorite Trader Joe’s wine, feel free to add a comment!

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