When it comes to the holidays, I consider myself fortunate. My family gets along, more or less, and gatherings are decidedly more festive than fraught. But not everyone is so lucky. And if you need a little liquid courage to get yourself through the hell that is other people, who’s to judge? Certainly not ALDI.
A nice bottle of wine can go a long way toward smoothing the sociable edges. That is, until your weird cousin empties half of your expensive cabernet into his battered YETI tumbler. You could always avoid this situation by bringing a cheaper vintage to share, but if it’s not good enough to savor, then what’s the point? Nobody wants to feel like they’ve been relegated to a strictly Carlo Rossi Thanksgiving.
In this sense (and in many others), ALDI has you covered. The store’s selection of budget wines is arguably the best of any major grocery chain. From reds to whites and all the rosés in between, I’ve never had a bad bottle from this retailer. Still, some are certainly better than others. Over the past few months, I’ve narrowed my holiday roster down to five selections, each clocking in under $10.
We’ll start with the heavy hitter. Outlander offers several varietals, but the cabernet is the cream of the crop. I found this wine to be dark and smooth, complete with the plum and blackberry flavors promised in the description. There was also a bit of red chile flake, and a hint of barnyard aroma. That might sound gross, but trust me, it works. The back of the bottle recommends pairing with turkey pot pie, so you’ll be on the right track for the holidays.
There’s a simple rule when it comes to pairing red wine with food: When in doubt, grab the pinot noir. This varietal is among the most food-friendly options available, and Tailslide is a solid example. This has been my go-to on multiple occasions, with its juicy, tongue-coating tannins and flavors of oak and cranberry. There’s another interesting flavor here: the scent of clean carpet. But hey, who doesn’t like fresh flooring?
My first thought after sampling Evanta was, “How does ALDI do it?” While by no means a knock-your-socks-off red, this wine is a solid example of its breed. Argentine Malbecs are generally good, but how many bottles out there cost less than a trip to Starbucks? This wine has just the tiniest bit of spiciness, which, as the description says, “Pairs well with skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, grilled red meat, chorizo, bratwurst, hamburgers, and empanadas.” Sounds like a Thanksgiving I’d like to attend.
Have you ever wanted to dunk one of your siblings’ heads into a pool? Well, if the pool was filled with Sunshine Bay, they might thank you. This tasty white proved to be perfect for both cooking and sipping, contributing to one of the more memorable gravies I’ve made. On its own, I’d tend to agree with ALDI’s description; the “crisp acidity, stony minerality and citrus” definitely come through. While red wines have my heart, this New Zealand sauvignon blanc is welcome in my kitchen any day.
Do you like white wine? Because if so, you’ll almost certainly enjoy Elementalist. Its flavor is bright and surprisingly clean, with mild and welcoming tannins. At just 12% ABV, this pinot grigio represents the softest, most drinkable bottle on the list. It’s fruity, sweet, and would go beautifully with the lighter pre-turkey courses. Just know that once the stuffing and dark meat make their way around the table, the flavor might be drowned out by the heavy hitters.
In short, each of these wines is worth your holiday coin. They’re tasty, affordable, thoroughly wholesome, and inoffensive. Now, if we could just do something about Uncle Darrell. He’s talking politics and shoveling leftovers into a used McDonald’s bag. Again.