Costco is more than a bargain-buying warehouse. It’s an international phenomenon. So loyal are its fans, the conglomerate has inspired Instagram accounts and blogs unaffiliated with its business yet devoted to sharing its wares — and wines.
Costco’s wine selection includes its own Kirkland brand, as well as bottles from other producers. Wine is sourced from “hundreds and hundreds of wineries” around the world, Annette Alvarez Peters, assistant general manager of wine at Costco, tells VinePair in an email. This includes “most of the major wine growing regions, from California to Washington to France.”
Distribution varies by region, state, and even store. In addition, Peters says, “since we have a treasure hunt mentality, we are constantly rotating our items in and out of our system.” So, stock can be difficult to pin down, but shoppers can trust certain guidelines. “Kirkland Signature wines seems to be pretty widely distributed, and are almost always a very good buy — and a good representation of region or varietal,” Andrew Cullen, founder of CostcoWineBlog.com, tells VinePair in a phone interview. But, he warns, “Like anything else at Costco… it moves fast.”
Costco could not share pricing, so average U.S. retail prices below are sourced via Wine-Searcher. However, it is worth noting that Costco prices are often discounted, so it’s possible a $20 wine on this list could be found between $10 to $15.
Below, VinePair narrows down Costco’s vast wine selection to a dozen of the best bottles available right now. Overall, our tasters found these labels balance quality and quantity, offering true bang-for-your-buck value.
This 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon from Lodi, Monterey, and the North Coast of California begins with a chocolatey aroma, followed by soft, jammy fruit notes. Our panelists enjoyed its “juicy” quality, and agreed it can be enjoyed sans food pairing. “It’s a SOLO cup, drink you up,” one taster said. Average U.S. retail price: $8.
This Chardonnay looks and smells like movie theater popcorn butter, but eventually opens up to offer bruised apple and pear aromas. The finish was weighty for some tasters, but a majority of our panelists enjoyed this Chardonnay’s unabashed oaky flavor. “This is a party wine,” one panelist said. “Not a dinner party, a party party.” Average U.S. retail price: $9.
Panelists were impressed by this wine’s garnet hue and indulgent fruity flavors. One taster found it ideal for a late-night home stash. “Buy a case of this so when you get home, you don’t open your [expensive bottles],” they said. Lush fruit flavors are balanced by a slightly astringent finish. Average U.S. retail price: $9.
A cornucopia of aromas includes “brown mustard,” “canned peach,” and “yogurt,” according to our panelists. Although not a traditional Zinfandel, panelists agreed it’s an interesting take on the style. “This does not taste like a Zinfandel,” one taster said, noting its not-too-oaky, not-too-smoky flavors and tannins. Another taster said it would pair great with a “big, bloody burger, with a hunk of cheddar.” Average U.S. retail price: $17.
Canned fruit, peaches, and apricot meld with petrol aromas, followed by “beeswax,” “lip balm,” and “Coppertone sunscreen,” our panelists said of this Riesling’s complex tropical nose. It’s sweet on the palate, and has a short finish with “nice acidity,” one panelist said. Average U.S. retail price: $21
Tasters admired this 100 percent Tannat’s “beautiful” color, as well as its “funky and complex” nose. Mushroom, raw meat, and “stinky cheese” aromas are followed by soft, fruity flavors. “It tastes much fruiter than it smells,” tasters agreed, and would pair well with a protein-rich snack. “Meat and cheese will bring out the fruit flavors even more,” one panelist said. Average U.S. retail price: $15.
This “super-fruity” Sauvignon Blanc starts with pear and passion fruit aromas, followed by “green” notes including jalapeño seeds, green bell pepper, and pyroxene. “There’s no kitty litter aroma!” one taster exclaimed, referring to this style’s common comparison to “cat pee.” Instead, this wine is “creamy and a little sweet — a bridge for the Pinot Grigio drinker [to Sauvignon Blanc],” they said. “It’s got all the refreshing character you want from Pinot Grigio, but good concentrated flavors, too.” Average U.S. retail price: $9.
This Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre blend “smells like cake batter,” “vanilla,” and “Black Forest cake.” It’s juicy up front, but has balancing tannins. “It’s perfect for dinner with friends,” one panelist said. “It will go with a lot, and has no competing flavors.” A little hot and heavy on the finish but not too oaky, our panelists agreed this is a good pick for a “meat and cheese party.” Average U.S. retail price: $9.
Inky purple with prune, fig, and raisin aromas and flavors, this Petite Sirah (Durif) from Lodi, Calif., is “fun to drink and easy to love,” one taster said. Our panel predicted it will appeal to fans of Amarone. One such panelist added, “I think it’s incredible.” “Buy this one in bulk,” another said. Average U.S. retail price: $15.
This DOCG Prosecco pours pale and sparkling, with tropical pineapple aromas. It’s crisp and dry and has a gentle, balanced finish. “It’s a little bit saccharine, but not too cloying,” one panelist said, adding it has a pleasurable bitterness on the finish. Our panel agreed this would do well in Mimosas, but is good enough to drink on its own, too. Average U.S. retail price: $10.
Pouring deep garnet, almost brown, this southern Rhône red blend begins with black pepper on the nose and has a gentle acidity on the palate. “This is interesting and different,” one panelist said, admiring its “lightly savory” flavor. It’s a great introduction to the Rhône region, but is notably pricier than other Costco selections. “If you’re balling out for Thanksgiving and you can find this for $65, it is worth it,” one panelist said. Average U.S. retail price: $77.
Soil-scented with notes of crunchy dead leaves, this wine rose above the rest for its individuality. Floral, earthy flavors follow the pleasurably “dirty” aromas. “This is the gem — the diamond in the rough,” one panelist said. Average U.S. retail price: $17.