Why a $3 Wine from Aldi Is Worthwhile

Breaking from the usual review format to weigh in on a trend: Value Wine from Aldi.

So we opened up something called “Winking Owl Shiraz” last night.

Winking Owl Shiraz

And we were quite impressed. More on that particular vino in a second, but first, let’s talk about Value Wine from Aldi.

Really…what are you waiting for?

I’ve done more than my share of in-store wine tastings, wine demos and wine marketing over the past several years. I know that people have different preconceived notions, and those can be summed up in a few nice bullet points:

  • “All box wine is swill”
  • “I only drink [insert brand name here]“
  • “Unless you pay $10 for it, it’s cheap and undrinkable”

Not everyone is like this, mind you – but these are the “Big Three.”

(Item Four: “I have to taste it before I buy it.” Since some stores can’t – or won’t – allow you to actually taste the stuff, and since not all brands will do “wet tastings,” this is also one of those barriers to expanding one’s palate that is tough to overcome. In other words, if you’re not willing to take a chance on a wine (or a beer or a new spirit), then you’re likely only going to rely on what stores pour, and you’ll miss out.)

I can’t help you with point one…yet. We’re reviewing the box wines soon. Promise. Stay tuned.

Point two…well, that’s part of the problem with the business, especially wine. The big brands – let’s use Santa Margherita’s Pinot Grigio as an example – pour tons of money into marketing. You come to expect finding it on the shelves, and seeing it all over the place, and it becomes, say, the house white. And it feeds off itself, so it appears that’s all you see.

We’re all creatures of habit – and I’ve done it for years myself with what I consider the best beer known to man, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.┬áIt wasn’t until I thought to broaden my own horizons that I tried other things. And I’m glad I did.

So part of this rant – apologies – is to get you out of the habit of buying the same old stuff. And to get you, too, to broaden your own horizons.

Which brings us to point three – price.

I’ll only drink something that’s more than $10 a bottle.

Okay, then. But…what are you paying for, really? Are you paying for the wine itself? OR, more likely, are you paying for the marketing behind the wine?

Why IS “Two Buck Chuck” $2? And when is the last time you saw a Trader Joe’s billboard?

So, once you get beyond the fact that there may NOT be a ton of difference – even these days – between a $5 wine and a $50 wine, let’s talk about Aldi and its Winking Owl Shiraz.

Winking Owl Shiraz Review

At first blush, this wasn’t a typical shiraz. The nose was very shiraz-like, but it had a very peppery taste. At first.

Taste

It opened up after an hour or so, and we’re glad it did. Quite tasty, some fruit, but pretty dry. Good finish – blackberry, black pepper. (Label pictured below says “a hint of spice.” We agree.) Earthy as well.

Profile

Here’s where you just have to…well, throw caution into the wind. Bottle doesn’t say the alcohol content. Doesn’t say the year. In fact, it only says “California, USA.” Mmmmkay.

Value

I will sacrifice the above profile information for a bottle of wine that is MORE THAN DRINKABLE and only costs THREE DOLLARS. In fact, I’d wager that this would be the second-best value out there right now.

(Want to know more about the best value? Click here: Lil Koala.)

Metasip Grade: B+

Yes, you heard me. This wine cost us $3 and gets a B+.

So…now that you know we’re partial to Aldi wines and not afraid of trying something that’s $3 a bottle…where are you gonna shop next? Or what crazy thing are you gonna try? Let us know!

 

Winking Owl Label

Lil Koala Shiraz

Lil Koala ShirazIn the interest of (1) causing a stir, (2) going out on a limb and (3) getting mondo traffic to this site from the Aldi Shopper/Value Hunter/Inexpensive Imbiber crowd, I would like to make the following statement:

Lil Koala Shiraz is the best value in wine today. Better than Charles Shaw. Better than any other house brand. You should check it out. Seriously.

Hyperbole aside, this is darn good. I could ask for a couple things – like a year, and maybe a bottle that doesn’t look like – and remind me of – Yellow Tail.

Other than that, let’s break it down. To the review, mate!

Lil Koala Shiraz Review

Taste

Plum, blackberry, black cherry on the nose. Fruit forward. Maybe a little black pepper, too – so there’s a kick and it’s not overly fruity. (Bottle identifies it as “semi-dry” and that’s a fair assessment.)

We had it with Mediterranean Chicken, and it complemented the meal extremely well. I can’t get over it – it could be that my expectations were low because, again, I was reminded of Yellow Tail. Oh, and the price – see more on that below.

But this is a “can I have another glass?” wine.

Profile

100% Shiraz, though undated. 14.1% ABV. Semi-dry and “Full-bodied” (according to the bottle’s little slider meter thingy).

Value

By the beard of Zeus – we got this for $2.98!

Okay, so it’s not going to drink like it’s $20 a bottle – but, and I welcome your comments here – this wine stands up to $12-$15 Shirazes.

(Plus, with what seems like a dearth of Australian wine at places like Costco, as we didn’t find ANY on a recent trip, this is worth snatching up.)

Metasip Grade: B+

We just gave a $3 bottle of wine from Aldi a B+. Yes, yes we did.

Note that on a recent Aldi trip, this wine had gone up in price to $4.79. Still, people – at $5, if it drinks like $15, can you see why we think this is the best wine value out there now?