How Aldi Makes Award-Winning Cheap Wine
In the last year, we've watched in astonishment as crazy-affordable wines-from the shelves of Target, Costco and Walmart-racked up international awards and accolades from vintners. But the bottle that really sent wine lovers into a frenzy was Aldi's acclaimed $8 rosé. That blush bottle beat out hundreds of others at the International Wine Challenge, where it took home the silver medal overall.
Though maybe we shouldn't be so surprised: for years, fans have sworn by the German grocery chain's exclusive brands for consistent high quality and low price points. But when it comes to wine, we've always thought a more expensive bottle would pour better glasses. After an inside look at some of the company's partner wineries, now we know better. Here are all of Aldi's secrets to making the best wine possible with such pocket-friendly prices-plus the incredible new bottles you need to look out for.
Related: 5 Health Benefits of Drinking Wine
New Bottles You Need Right Now
Aldi and one of its wine-making partners, Precept, have created small batches of "Lot Series" wines that will be on offer for a limited time as part of the "Aldi Finds" program. Catch them this month and be sure to stock up; they may not last long on shelves. (Seriously, bring any one of these to the holiday dinner table and you'll look ultra-sophisticated without even trying-or spending much.)
Related: Make-Your-Own Wine Pouches
Old Vine Garnacha, $9
Straight from 45-year-old vines in Spain, the grapes for this bottle are entirely hand-picked. A bright, red fruit flavor up front is followed by a barely there oak-spiced finish.
Cabernet Sauvignon, $10
This vibrant rendition of Washington State cabernet bursts with blackberry and red currant flavors, but is balanced by a dry and velvety end note.
Reserve Malbec, $12
This slightly smoky malbec is so smooth it sips like silk. Slight hints of dark plum and vanilla add richness and an inviting, cozy feeling to every glass.
Grand Brut, $14
Bursting with bright green apple and citrus notes, this effervescent bottle is crafted using the traditional méthode champenoise from France and tastes as refreshing alone as it does with orange juice during brunch.
But How Does Aldi Keep All This Wine So Affordable?
1. It Owns Its Own Land and Fruit
Aldi's wine partners own their vineyards outright. This means the company isn't paying any overhead on the land or fruit needed to create high-quality wines. For example, some grape varieties can cost up to $3,000 per ton on the market, while it only costs about $900 to produce yourself on site. This keeps the price of every bottle dramatically lower than for vintners who purchase grapes from other growers.
2. It Takes "Location, Location, Location" Seriously
Before choosing to partner with brands like Precept, the Pacific Northwest's largest private wine label, Aldi did its research. Washington state produces consistently high-quality wine year after year because of its desert-like climate. With extremely warm temperatures during the day and a steep dip at night, areas like the Yakima Valley allow grapes to develop both sugary flesh and stronger skins, which provides more concentrated juice and perfectly balances every single bottle. What's more, an extra two hours of sunlight each day means fruit can ripen on all sides of the sloping landscapes (north, south, east, west) and at nearly any elevation. These constants yield reliably good grapes-and even better wine-every season, which means prices never need to waver.
3. It Cuts Unnecessary Production Costs
Aldi strategically partners with winemakers who make the most of what is available to them. By opting for machine pickers over grueling hand-picking, a single vineyard can harvest 300 tons of grapes at once, saving an immense amount of both time and labor. And that savings trickle all the way down to your wallet.
4. The Buyers Are Dedicated to Good Deals
According to an Aldi representative, a whopping 90 percent of the store's wine aisle is priced under $10. At the very bottom, bottles can cost just $3 while peak price points hover between $15 and $20. This is because most consumers look for bottles under $20. Aldi's wine buyers understand this and make it their mission to hunt down (and taste firsthand!) the best-quality bottles below that price tag.
More Affordable Bottles
If you're looking for even more wine options for your holiday dinner party, check out these other amazingly cheap but delicious bottles from some of your favorite retailers.
Find this creamy yet crisp white at Costco. Its balanced acidity and fresh pear notes make it bright and refreshing during a heavy winter meal.
While widely available at many retailers, this insanely affordable bottle is just $7 at Trader Joe's. The super-smooth mix of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and grenache from Australia is sure to please a crowd.
Although slightly pricier than the under-single-digit set, this bottle from Costco is aged in stainless steel rather than oak for a supremely clean finish of zesty lemon and white floral notes.
Unbelievably priced, this cherry-tinged and slightly oaky cabernet pairs best with juicy roasts, meaty stews and rich sauces. Pick up two or three bottles at Target to get your holiday party started.