Why a $3 Wine from Aldi Is Worthwhile

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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. It 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

Comments

  1. Stephen kim says:

    I have to say that I am partial to Aldi and their wine selection. Especially during the holidays when they receive in their dessert wines from Germany.

    I have to say my go to wine is the Santa Bachelli Chianti Classico. If they pull a Montepulciano wine from Tuscany, all bets are off. I definitely will have to try the Lil Koala Shiraz though, sounds tasty.

    • Dave Van de Walle says:

      Thanks for the comment, Stephen!

      Speaking of Aldi and its dessert wines…we have an Auslese that’s been chilling in the fridge FOREVER. Must open it this weekend.

      Cheers!

      • I bought two bottles of the moscato and I have never been more pleased with a product this cheap in a long long time!!!!! It’s delish! Winking owl just made me a fan for life!!!

        • Is very good!

        • Janet Cook says:

          Are there more current comments than August? I just open my first bottle of Cabernet suvignon and it’s a actually a very tasty wine. I love my wine and my favorite has always been menage ‘a trike California red wine. However I do try other brands occasionally just to taste. I was pleasantly surprised at the fruity flavor of the winking owl Cabernet. I have tried some other $3 wines that are drinkable and by far this is the best for this price range. I was just looking at the different so es and labels at Aldi and the manager said I hear that the winking owl is really good and it’s only $2.29 and we can ot keep enough of it stocked for our customers. So I thought what the heck I will just have to try and I am glad I did. It will definitely be one of my regular buys.

          • Dave Van de Walle says:

            That’s the most recent…but glad you enjoyed it.

            We’ll get to more reviews. Soon. Promise!

          • I purchased a bottle of the white Zinfandel for Thanksgiving dinner and even my wine hating MIL drank 3 glasses. I prefer a wine with fruity overtone and a soft but tart finish and this didn’t disappoint. I also purchased the Merlot with the expectation it would be great for cooking but probably horrid to drink. This was amazing both in the dish and by the glass.

          • Dave Van de Walle says:

            You helped us confirm that old adage: “don’t cook with wine you wouldn’t drink.” Thanks for the comment!

  2. I’m surprised how good some of the Winking Owl wines are for the price. I really just wanted to say, though, that the alcohol content is on the top right corner of the front label. I didn’t see it at first either, but I thought it was required on labels, so I looked again.

  3. Tiffany says:

    Just opened a bottle of Winking Owl Merlot … Tastes great ! Definitely worth 3$ !

    • Dave Van de Walle says:

      Yay! Thanks for the comment…

      Someday, when I get my advanced degree in Economics or something, I’ll do a supply/demand value curve thingy to prove that spending $3 on a wine that you enjoy is just as sensible as spending $10 on a wine that you enjoy a little more. And whatnot. Again, need advanced degree first.

      Cheers!

  4. Does Gallo produce the exact same Winking Owl wines and put their own label on it ?

    • Dave Van de Walle says:

      Not sure how the whole Gallo/Winking Owl relationship works…

    • From what I can tell from looking it up online, Winking Owl is produced by Gallo for Aldi. Aldi sells quite a few products that are made by big brand companies under a different name.
      I am having my first glass of Winking Owl wine right now and I really like it. I’m from Germany and it is well known there that Aldi wines are a good buy. You get decent quality for a very good price.

  5. Gallo produces Winking Owl, do the bottle it under their label/brand?

  6. Aldi wine is great, especially the 2014 POND Cabernet Sauvignon for $7 a bottle. I am surprised some people still live by the ‘You get what you pay for’ rule. There is so much good quality wine from South Australia under $8 a bottle. Marketing hype is what you pay for….

    • Dave Van de Walle says:

      Haven’t tried POND yet, but OMG my last trip to Aldi had a boatload of new selection – plus tons o’ beer. Thanks for the comment!

  7. My mistake previous post…One Road Shiraz ($7) is from South Australia. Not sure about Pond. Anyway, both fine wines for small $. Bottoms Up! Thank you Aldi.

  8. I’ve been a big fan of Winking Owl wines for quite a while. Now it seems my local Aldi no longer carries them. Does anyone know if it’s a temporary thing or do I need to hunt for a new value wine?

    • Betsy Pearson says:

      My Aldi in Central Illinois carries Winking Owl, so maybe they were just out. I haven’t tried it yet but bought a bottle of Pinot Grigio. Have had a couple of the ALDI Sauvignon Blanc wines and they’re pretty good. Sunshine Bay from New Zealand is super-tart, though! I really like the Flirty Bird Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s best well-chilled, and that’s a bargain for $3.99!

  9. I’m getting ready to try this wine for valentine’s dinner. It’s a 12% alcohol content. Should go pretty well with steak.

  10. The only winking owl I didn’t care for was sauvignon blanc. Soooo disappoonting, and that is one of my favorite whites. However, their white Zin renewed my tastes for White Zin. So nice and fruity! I’ll be getting more of that brand

    • Dave Van de Walle says:

      Funny, Ms. L – yours is the first reference of the Winking Owl White Zinfandel, so thanks for sharing that info. Cheers!

  11. Glenn Gamache says:

    I buy Aldi’s Winking Owl Merlot by the case!! I absolutely love the price and the wine is awesome for the price. I have been drinking it for over 1 1/2 years and have never had a bad bottle. For less than $3 a bottle you cannot go wrong.

    • Dave Van de Walle says:

      Thanks, Glenn. A little bird with inside info told me that Aldi’s expansion into California will lead to more “semi-premium” wines in the $8-ish category, so that will mean more selection. Plus the “snobs” can move upmarket in price, and there may be more of the Winking Owl for you. Cheers!

  12. Melissa says:

    Stop telling people about Aldi and especially stop telling about the wine. We need to keep this secret…shhhhh. Lol.

    • Dave Van de Walle says:

      What’s funny is that this particular post is OLD…like a year or two…but, aside from the discussion on Costco, it’s the one that keeps coming back up. We must have done something right – though I do apologize if our success leads to less availability for you. 😉

  13. Joe Angelotti says:

    For our house (family & friends included), the Winking Owl Merlot is FAR SUPERIOR to Aldi’s Bridge Road Vineyards Merlot as well as their Burlwood Cellars Merlot for less loot. This being said however, none of the three will ever have to be worried about being confused with Milbrandt Traditions Merlot.
    But as it is $16.99 a bottle, nor should they be.
    As you may have guessed, this is to special occasion, go to Merlot in our home.

    • Dave Van de Walle says:

      And that’s what’s important, Joe…you’ve got a favorite, you’ve got a daily go-to, you have more things in your arsenal. Cheers, and thanks for the comment!

  14. Eric Muniz says:

    I’m an occasional wine drinker, I recently bought a Winking Owl California Merlot and I thought it was great, specially at $2.99, then I went on line to find out how good a wine tester I was. Yes, I was right.

  15. LG Acord says:

    I walked into our Aldi the other day and noticed we finally got wine in (the grocery store/wine vote passed where we live not too long ago). I immediately started doing internet searches on the brands and ran across this review. Based on it and the comments, I gave the Winking Owl Red Blend a chance. I am very pleasantly surprised. I will definitely try more of them now. Thanks for the review!

  16. Marilyn Kilpatrick says:

    My husband and I tried Winking Owl for the first time today. I am partial to a red wine, and I love a peppery note. I think I have found my favorite wine and you can’t beat the $3 price tag.

  17. the alcohol content is on the bottom right looking at it right now;)

  18. rosi blumenthal says:

    What happened. I saw a program on tv . It was all about the wine being sold for under 4 dollars a bottle and it was not made from grapes ,it was made from blueberries. They had a Vineyard and winery close by . They even commented on how well their goats were doing being fed on the berry waste. Now it has been wiped off the map and there is no mention of this It is still forsake at Aldi’l but now it’s called Winking Owl. What happened. I can only assume they were bought out by a firm who doesn’t want to be nown by this history?????????????

  19. My fiance and I are enjoying a night at home. We lit a candle, and we are tasting some 2 year aged cheddar from Aldi ($2.99), and drinking a glass of Winking Owl, Merlot. ($2.99) My fiance just joked, ” I love you, because you are a cheap date. Less than 10 bucks.” Bravo Aldi! Great products, and unforgettable laughter.

  20. I myself am new to drinking wine. My friends introduced me Aldi’s Bridge Road brand of white zinfandel and it seems quite nice.

  21. Corey streeter says:

    I live in Tennessee. Just came across winking owl cab. Had it tonight with qinuoa and steak and it’s perfect. Couldn’t find a better buy for $3. There’s much better wines out there for sure, but the value gives this one priority. Well done and thank you ALDI!!!

  22. A friend of mine introduced me to Aldi wine we had Arosa brand sparkling moscato. My first glass I was like omg this is delicious she girl please I got it from aldi. A week or two later I went to visit my aunt she opened a bottles of. WO moscato it was sooo good! I have a bottled of Chardonnay and Shiraz that I’m going to try next WO BRAND

  23. I LOVE Aldi’s Bridge Road White Zinfandel. $7.99 for a 7.5 Liter bottle. Light strawberry flavor, sweet wine!! I also LOVE Aldi’s for their groceries and prices. I live right down the street from Krogers, but will drive an extra 7 minutes to grocery shop at Aldi’s. My husband says I should be a spokesperson for them. I tell all my friends!!

  24. Kathy Buchanan says:

    The Winking Owl Moscato is indeed Barefoot Moscato for half the price.
    Best find of 2016

  25. Sue Mercado says:

    No comments, since 2014? Maybe that’s good news. Until now .
    Well here is my comment in 2017, the Cabernet Sauvignon has always been great until this week. I bought 2 bottles and they are so sweet I think they label the wrong bottle what’s going on Aldi wine people? I am not a picky Wine Drinker but this wine is really sweet compared to the $3 Kroger, the $3 Walmart, and every other Cabernet Sauvignon $3 wine. Yours is up there with the best but today it’s not the same something is going on.

  26. Edna dion says:

    Just want to say that I have tried 4 different wines by Winking owl my favorite being the white Zinfandel and I tried many brands before but this is far better tasting and priced low. I never get a hang over from it but have with other wines. I give it a Five Star

  27. William Cockrell says:

    Started making my own wine and decided to try drinking wine since I was making it. Tried the Winking Owl brand from Aldi to see what wine should taste like and liked it, for me it’s a double value, the cheapest I can buy bottles for is 1.38 and the price of Winking Owl is 2.99, so the price of the wine is 1.61, now no matter how it taste you can’t beat it. Turns out that it’s really a good tasting wine to some one like me that’s not a wine drinker ( that’s a whole other story ) So my advise is to give it a try and see for yourself if you like it, If you are stuck on a brand then have someone help you do a blind taste test if needed. Just my 2 cents worth.

  28. Suzanne says:

    I’ve never really been a wine drinker, but have begun to explore wines in the last few years. I never knew what to choose: cab, merlot, Shiraz, etc. I always asked my wine friends for suggestions. They all said to just try them and see what I liked.

    This Winking Owl Shiraz is one of the best wines I’ve tried so far. I absolutely love it! It’s a great value and tastes very good. I’ve also tried the Winking Owl brand cab and merlot and they are good. The Shiraz is hands down my favorite!

  29. I buy Winking Owl Shiraz by the case. Love it! When l buy a bottle of wine while dining, l am usually disappointed. Pay $30 for a bottle that is really no better (not as good) than my $3 bottle of Winking Owl.

  30. Bridget schwerin says:

    I was wondering if I can get it by the case wanting it for my daughters wedding in Oct

  31. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve been drinking Winking Owl Merlot for years now! I’ve gotten my husband , his father, and several friends of mine hooked on this wine! Best deal in town!

  32. Dave Van de Walle says:

    Amen! I guess the people of Aldi will thank you for your word of mouth marketing. And I thank you for your comment!

Trackbacks

  1. […] have to get that out there – and you can read all about quite a few other Aldi wines here on the Metasip […]

  2. […] than $3 and although I couldn’t review it in my certain state, it’s supposed to be pretty damn good. Most of the prices were as if everything was on a really good sale. They weren’t giving it […]

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