Best Sparkling Wines at Trader Joe's, According to a Sommelier
It's about time to break out the bubbly and usher in a new year while bidding good riddance to the last. Because we're obsessed with all things Trader Joe's, we'd suggest picking up some celebratory bubbles while you're grabbing chardonnay-soaked cheese.
To get some recommendations for sparkling wines available at Trader Joe's, we turned to Meghan Vergara, a certified sommelier who worked as a wine buyer in Napa Valley for several years. Now, she heads Veritas Consultants, which runs (currently virtual) wine-tasting events and education programs.
"Trader Joe's has a pretty solid wine program," Vergara says. "They have huge buying power, so they're able to source some interesting wines and procure great prices on certain wines."
But, Vergara acknowledges, all the options can be a little overwhelming, especially for people who aren't wine experts. "You walk up to a wall of wine, what do you do?"
How to Choose a Sparkling Wine
Pay attention to regions more so than the producer, Vergara advises. "If you have a great bottle of wine with dinner, take a moment to look at the label and analyze as specifically as you can where it came from, because most likely next time you buy a wine of that grape varietal from that region, you will like it. Wine regions carry a very unique and very specific flavor and style." This is particularly helpful in stores like Trader Joe's, for which producers may be bottling wines under bespoke labels. So when shopping, go directly to the region you're interested in and look for similar wines. "When you can break it into chunks of geography, it really does help make it less overwhelming and gives you more options than one particular producer," Vergara says.
Types of Sparkling Wine: Champagne, Prosecco, Cava & More
When looking for bubbles, there are three common options: Champagne, prosecco and cava. Champagne must come from the Champagne region in France, and adhere to strict production guidelines. It's super complex, and you'll get big notes of apple, pear, brioche and toast. But you'll pay a steep price for it, so it's best to save Champagne for special occasions if you're on a budget. Prosecco is a lighter, easier-drinking sparkling wine that's really popular and relatively cheap. Then you have cava, which is made using the same method as Champagne but comes from Spain. It has similar complexity to Champagne but comes at a much lower price point. You'll also find lots of other bubblies from many different wine regions that are just labeled "sparkling wine" since they aren't allowed to use the other designations.
Below, Vergara shares her picks for sparkling wines from Trader Joe's.
4 Sparkling Wines to Try from Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's North Coast California Brut Reserve, $9.99
"You can always do sparkling wine from California, which we can't call Champagne, of course, because it doesn't come from the Champagne region," Vergara explains. "Sparkling wines from Northern California, like Sonoma and certain areas of Napa, are absolutely outstanding." One of Vergara's favorites from Trader Joe's is their house label brut reserve, which is made with chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes and utilizes the same production method as Champagne—although it's not fermented for quite as long. But it's hard to argue with the quality you're getting for the low price. "It isn't quite Champagne level, but it definitely has character and body. The fruit is well developed and we can taste tertiary notes. What you really want is a level of complexity and this wine has it," Vergara says.
Cecilia Beretta Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, $10.99
"Prosecco also has certain designations and the more specific you get to the region, the higher quality," says Vergara, who recommends this prosecco from Northern Italy's Conegliano Valdobbiadene wine region, which has stringent quality control measures for all prosecco produced there. "It's light and crisp, with very elegant, delicate bubbles," Vergara says. "It smells beautiful on the nose, and it's tasty, with flavors of citrus, green apple and lime rind but a touch sweeter. It's pleasant and creamy on the palate."
McBride Sisters Sparkling Brut Rosé, $14.99
"Rosé all day" isn't going anywhere, and sparkling rosé is an Insta-worthy addition to any celebration. "First, the McBride sisters are awesome—they're two sisters and what they've been able to achieve and pull off is just incredible," says Vergara. In fact, McBride Sisters is the largest Black-owned wine company in the United States, and in addition to producing great wine, the company has a professional development fund to help close the gender and race gap in the wine industry. Vergara touts this New Zealand sparkling brut rosé available at Trader Joe's. "It has nice acidity, nice bubbles and beautiful packaging. You're getting some orange and even cherry notes on this one. It's a little bit tart. It's medium-bodied for sparkling wine and has a little bit of complexity. It's just very smooth, delicious and easy drinking," she says.
Trader Joe's Blanc de Blancs Vin Mousseux, $5.99
While this isn't Vergara's favorite for sipping on its own, it is a great option for morning-after mimosas or Bellinis or to add to punches and other cocktails. "Mousseux is another term for sparkling wine—this one is from France, just not from the Champagne region," Vergara says. She describes this wine as "pretty simple," which is why it's a great option for using in cocktails or drinking with added fruit. "Anytime you're adding fruit or juice, you can go with something that's a little bit less expensive, less complex and maybe even has some sweetness to it," she explains. For just $5.99, it's the perfect accompaniment to a decked-out brunch.
RELATED: The 7 Best Wines Under $15