There’s been a lot of buzz about the German-based supermarket chain Aldi. Between the internationally ranked $8 rosé and the company’s viral wine Advent calendar, Aldi has garnered worldwide recognition. After months of curiosity, the VinePair staff finally got our hands on eight of Aldi’s “award-winning” bottles available stateside. Why? To blind taste and determine which was the top Aldi wine of all.
While Aldi’s signature Exquisite Collection wines are not currently available in the U.S., the grocer does offer wine in 18 states that allow grocery wine sales: Alabama, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The wines tasted by our panel were rated between 84 and 90 points at the World Wine Championships, a U.S.-based, international competition that has recently awarded 90-plus point scores to the likes of Barefoot and Bota Box.
All VinePair tasting panelists were unaware of the brands, grapes, regions, or vintages of wines tasted and were asked to give tasting notes and estimated prices for each bottle. You might be surprised by the results — we certainly were.
Belletti Prosecco NV
This Prosecco had a thick, syrupy sweetness that the panel did not appreciate. It was simultaneously deemed tasteless. The bubbly went flat quickly, and there was an odd, not-quite-acidic component that burned the tongue.
“It tastes a little bland.”
“It lost all its bubbles very quickly.”
“Is this Andre?”
Use it in a Mimosa if it’s on hand, but there are absolutely better bubblies for the money. Our panel’s price estimate: $6 – $10. Actual price: $6.99
Giretto Pinot Grigio 2016
Both clear and nondescript, this Pinot Grigio tastes like sour lemon water. It isn’t offensive, but it isn’t interesting, either.
“This is chuggable as f**k because it tastes like nothing but lemon.”
“This reminds me of the Pinot Grigio I used to take to tailgate in college.”
“It’s like when you drink your mom’s wine and you refill it with water so she doesn’t know.”
The Pinot Grigio’s blandness makes it easy to chug like water, but get it super cold first. Our panel’s price estimate: $6 – $9. Actual price: $5.99
Coastal Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2016
With its over-the-top grapefruit, overripe mango, and jalapeño pepper aromas, this wine was very clearly identifiable as a Sauvignon Blanc. While the aromas were overblown, the palate was cleaner and more restrained.
“You know how sometimes there’s that foot smell to cheese…?”
“It’s totally fine.”
“It tastes better than is smells.”
Though Sauvignon Blanc haters wouldn’t stand for this wine, it was the panel’s favorite white wine since it had both flavor and acidity. Our panel’s price estimate: $10 – $12. Actual price: $6.99
William Wright Chardonnay 2015
The jarring neon yellow color of this wine made the panel nervous, and rightfully so; it smelled like fake oak, overripe, rotting fruit, and alcohol. The palate wasn’t much better, with an added note of rotting meat, as noted by one panelist.
“This is cheap carafe house wine at an Italian restaurant.”
“It’s like if someone made wine out of plantains.”
“That would be a real disservice to plantains.”
“It tastes like someone is manufacturing a Chardonnay.”
This was one of the panel’s least-favorite white wines, a product clearly made to fit a perceived consumer stereotype of “California Chardonnay.” Our panel’s price estimate: $8 – $12. Actual price: $6.99
Crystal Creek Riesling 2015
While the nose had the classic Riesling marker of petrol, it wasn’t pleasant, coming off more like basement or manufactured tennis ball. The palate was sweet and out of balance with the alcohol, tasting like a cheap pineapple-vodka cocktail.
“The sweetness is weird.”
“After a second glass, I would have the worst headache.”
“What I would like it to cost is free, and I still wouldn’t drink it.”
Along with the Chardonnay, this was the other least-favorite white wine. Flabby sweetness and lack of acidity made it taste like unpleasant juice. Our panel’s price estimate: $10. Actual price: $5.99
William Wright Reserve Pinot Noir 2015
Juicy cherries and a touch of fake oak read hot on the nose, with a cough medicine-like edge on the palate. Round and red-fruited, like cherry-vanilla.
“This is cheap Pinot Noir for sure.”
“If this had a little more acidity, a lot of people would happily drink it.”
“I wanted this out of my mouth immediately when I drank it.”
While some panelists vehemently disliked this wine, others admitted that it was solid, if lacking in acidity. It would be better if chilled. Our panel’s price estimate: $12 – $15. Actual price: $9.99
Intermingle Red Blend 2014
High-toned, boozy dark berry fruit meets sweet but dirty juice on the palate, with an oddly plastic-like, meaty undertone.
“This smells like nail polish. It’s burning my nose.”
“I would marinate meat in it.”
“I would not pay $3 for this.”
What an odd wine — painful and manufactured on the nose, sugary-sweet on the palate. If you want a cheap red blend, go for Target’s version, hands-down. Our panel’s price estimate: $10. Actual price: $5.99
Copperwood Merlot 2015
“It smells like it’s supposed to be Cabernet.”
“Baby’s first Cabernet.”
“It’s like bad carafe wine, but this is the best red.”
This was almost unanimously the favorite wine of the tasting. Although it tasted like cheap red wine, it had a bit of complexity and structure to zip it together. The panel was surprised to learn that it wasn’t Cabernet Sauvignon! Our panel’s price estimate: $12 – $14. Actual price: $5.99