Costco’s private-label wines are arguably the best deal on vino that you can find anywhere. Most reds and whites are priced between $6 and $8. Besides stocking up on the 30-roll package of toilet paper and a crate of croissants, we wanted to know which case of wine to pick up on our next Costco trip. So we enlisted the help of Owen Bargreen, a certified Level Two sommelier who writes the stellar Washington Wine Blog. Bargreen sampled wines we had collected from three different Costco branches (Sodo, Tukwila and Everett) and told us what he thought.

When we ran a similar ranking of Costco wines last year, many readers were frustrated by not knowing which Costco to hit up for each prized bottle. So this year, we’ve also noted which Costco branch each bottle was purchased at. (We bought these wines within the past three weeks, though that doesn’t guarantee you will score a bottle. Call your local Costco before you go.)

Our rating system: “not recommended,” “recommended buy” and “highly recommended.”

Costco’s NV Kirkland Signature Brut Champagne comes highly recommended by Seattle Times food critic Tan Vinh and sommelier Owen Bargreen. “At $19.99, this is a steal,” Bargreen says. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
Costco’s NV Kirkland Signature Brut Champagne comes highly recommended by Seattle Times food critic Tan Vinh and sommelier Owen Bargreen. “At $19.99, this is a steal,” Bargreen says. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

NV Kirkland Signature Brut Champagne

  • Alcohol volume: 12%
  • Purchased from: Sodo branch
  • Price: $19.99

Owen: This wine, a blend of Meunier, chardonnay and pinot noir, shows a nice bouquet of baked apples, ginger and shades of sourdough bread that take their form in the glass. It has a soft mouthfeel and has good brightness and salinity — Japanese apple, challah bread and quince flavors impress. At $19.99, this is a steal. Ready to drink between 2019 and 2027. Highly recommended.

Tan: We both said this last year, too, and it bears repeating: You can’t get Champagne at this quality anywhere else for this price. I’ve done a blind tasting with Costco’s bottle compared to other $50 Champagnes, and this is just as good — or comes pretty damn close — to the higher-priced bottles. Highly recommended.

 

Costco’s NV Kirkland Signature Asolo Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. is one recommended budget bottle. At $6.99, “This is a good sparkling to buy by the case for your party,” says Tan Vinh.  (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
Costco’s NV Kirkland Signature Asolo Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. is one recommended budget bottle. At $6.99, “This is a good sparkling to buy by the case for your party,” says Tan Vinh. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

NV Kirkland Signature Asolo Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G.

  • Alcohol volume: 11%
  • Purchased from: Tukwila branch
  • Price: $6.99

Owen: This was sourced from a range of vineyards in Asolo, Veneto, Italy, and is a D.O.C.G., the highest classification of Italian wines. Sweetened apple and shades of candied ginger mingle together in the glass. It has good astringency, offering orchard fruits that complement the lemon-zest edge. It’s hard to find palatable sparkling wine anywhere near this price. Drink 2019-2022. Highly recommended.

Tan: This sparkling wine was temporarily sold-out at the Sodo store two weeks ago, so I headed to the Tukwila branch to pick up a bottle. This doesn’t stay on the shelves long. This is a good sparkling to buy by the case for your party. The Costco Champagne is a better value, but consumers are lured by this $6.99 price tag. It’s bubbly and juicy, and it goes down easy. Highly recommended.

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The 2018 Kirkland Signature Grave Pinot Grigio is just $5.99, but Tan Vinh suggests spending a couple of bucks more for a better bottle that still won’t break your budget. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
The 2018 Kirkland Signature Grave Pinot Grigio is just $5.99, but Tan Vinh suggests spending a couple of bucks more for a better bottle that still won’t break your budget. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

2018 Kirkland Signature Grave Pinot Grigio

  • Alcohol volume: 12.5%
  • Purchased from: Sodo branch
  • Price: $5.99

Owen: It shows very faint aromas of white flower and pear that connect in the glass. This pinot grigio has good freshness but delivers very little in terms of richness, with wet stone and light tree-fruit flavors. But for $5.99, it’s solid value buy for a refreshing and lithe summer wine. Drink 2019-2022. Recommended.

Tan: This isn’t as perfume-y as other Fruili pinot grigios. It’s an inoffensive, patio-weather white that’s fine for its price point. But at Costco, you can get a lot better wine for one or two bucks more. Not recommended.

 

A 1.5-liter bottle of 2018 Kirkland Signature California Pinot Grigio is available at the Sodo Costco branch for $7.99. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
A 1.5-liter bottle of 2018 Kirkland Signature California Pinot Grigio is available at the Sodo Costco branch for $7.99. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

2018 Kirkland Signature California Pinot Grigio

  • Alcohol volume: 12% 
  • Purchased from: Sodo branch
  • Price: $7.99 for 1.5 liters

Owen: Slightly sweet with a good degree of freshness and weight, the wine shows orchard fruits and shades of lemon-infused shortbread cookie. This wine is essentially $3.50 a bottle. Drink 2019-2022. Recommended.

Tan: This is rich in body and flavor, especially compared to our last pinot grigio. I get a lot of tropical notes, honey and mineral. If you’re throwing a party on a budget, this is great. You won’t find a better 1.5-liter bottle of wine at this price. Highly recommended.

 

The 2019 Kirkland Signature Ti Point Sauvignon Blanc
has “a sense of freshness with the lemon zest, kumquat and green-apple flavors mingling with minerals,” says sommelier Owen Bargreen. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
The 2019 Kirkland Signature Ti Point Sauvignon Blanc has “a sense of freshness with the lemon zest, kumquat and green-apple flavors mingling with minerals,” says sommelier Owen Bargreen. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

2019 Kirkland Signature Ti Point Sauvignon Blanc

  • Alcohol volume: 12.5%
  • Purchased from: Sodo branch
  • Price: $6.99

Owen: This is a sensationally valued New Zealand sauvignon blanc that’s crafted by Tracy Haslam of Ti Point Vineyard in Marlborough. The brightness on the nose is nice with grapefruit, jalapeno pepper and shades of white flowers that all come together in the glass. You get a sense of freshness with the lemon zest, kumquat and green-apple favors mingling with minerals. Drink 2019-2023. Highly recommended. 

Tan: This is just delicious — like a dry Sprite with mineral. This is the most aromatic wine we’ve had, with lots of floral and zest on the nose. Highly recommended.

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The 2018 Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Chardonnay was a split decision. While sommelier Owen Bargreen recommended the $6.99 bottle, Seattle Times food critic Tan Vinh said of notes of buttered popcorn, “I’m suffocating in it and can barely register much else.” (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
The 2018 Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Chardonnay was a split decision. While sommelier Owen Bargreen recommended the $6.99 bottle, Seattle Times food critic Tan Vinh said of notes of buttered popcorn, “I’m suffocating in it and can barely register much else.” (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

2018 Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Chardonnay

  • Alcohol volume: 13.5%
  • Purchased from: Sodo branch
  • Price: $6.99

Owen: The nose shows buttered popcorn and shades of baked apple that take their shape in the glass. The wine has a soft texture, delivering slightly sweet orchard fruits with vanilla cream. You would be hard-pressed to find a California chardonnay this good at this price. Drink 2019-2023. Recommended.

Tan: Buttered popcorn sounds right. In fact, I’m suffocating in it and can barely register much else — maybe a tad of zest and citrus-y notes on the mid-palate. Not recommended.

 

Sommelier Owen Bargreen described the 2018 Kirkland Signature California Chardonnay as “a touch cloying.” Seattle Times food critic Tan Vinh went a step further: “This is just butterscotch candy disguised as wine.” (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
Sommelier Owen Bargreen described the 2018 Kirkland Signature California Chardonnay as “a touch cloying.” Seattle Times food critic Tan Vinh went a step further: “This is just butterscotch candy disguised as wine.” (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

2018 Kirkland Signature California Chardonnay

  • Alcohol volume: 14.5%
  • Purchased from: Sodo branch
  • Price: $7.99 for 1.5 liters

Owen: The wine has a soft texture but comes off a touch cloying, with little richness or ripe fruit flavors. Drink 2019-2022. Not recommended.

 Tan: Owen, you’re being way too kind. This is just butterscotch candy disguised as wine. Not recommended.

 

The 2017 Kirkland Signature “Premier Cru” Chablis is highly recommended for its “funky, earthy notes, balanced with lemon zest.” (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
The 2017 Kirkland Signature “Premier Cru” Chablis is highly recommended for its “funky, earthy notes, balanced with lemon zest.” (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

2017 Kirkland Signature ‘Premier Cru’ Chablis

  • Alcohol volume: 12.5% 
  • Purchased from: Everett branch
  • Price: $18.99

Owen: This was sourced from two different vineyards, in Vau Ligneau and Vaugiraut, and is made by Odile Van Der Moere. The wine begins with aromas of salted Marcona almond that mingles with suggestions of Gravenstein apple and cloves that all mingle in the glass. The soft texture really entices here. The salinity and bright minerality are really good, as ripe green apple, green papaya and crushed seashell flavors all take their shape in the glass. The long finish lingers for nearly a minute on the tongue. Fantastic now, this beautiful effort will cellar well for the next decade. Drink 2019-2029. Highly recommended. 

Tan: I thought this was the best bottle in our sampling, one of the best whites I’ve had this year for under $20. I had pledged not to hoard any outstanding Costco wine that we found in this tasting, but man, I want a case of this. This is as good as many bottles of Chablis I’ve had in the $40-$50 price range, an elegant, beautifully crafted wine with lots of limestone and funky, earthy notes, balanced with lemon zest. Highly recommended. 

 

The 2018 Kirkland Signature “Russian River Valley” Pinot Noir “is not a fair representation” of the region in Sonoma County says Seattle Times food critic Tan Vinh. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
The 2018 Kirkland Signature “Russian River Valley” Pinot Noir “is not a fair representation” of the region in Sonoma County says Seattle Times food critic Tan Vinh. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

2018 Kirkland Signature ‘Russian River Valley’ Pinot Noir

  • Alcohol volume: 13.9% 
  • Purchased from: Sodo branch
  • Price: $12.89

Owen: The nose shows cola and sweetened strawberry aromas. The texture is very nice, although the flavors are lacking a bit as this suffers from a lack of balance. Drink 2019-2024. Not recommended.

Tan: Readers who are not familiar with the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County should know this region produces some of the best pinot noirs in  the U.S. This berry bomb is not a fair representation of that region. Not recommended.

 

The 2018 Kirkland Signature Cotes du Rhone Villages comes highly recommended by both Tan Vinh and Owen Bargreen, who says, “This wine, rich and fresh, is a great value.” It costs $6.99. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
The 2018 Kirkland Signature Cotes du Rhone Villages comes highly recommended by both Tan Vinh and Owen Bargreen, who says, “This wine, rich and fresh, is a great value.” It costs $6.99. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

2018 Kirkland Signature Cotes du Rhone Villages

  • Alcohol volume: 14%
  • Purchased from: Tukwila branch
  • Price: $6.99

Owen: Made by Patrick Lesec, the wine shows good aromatic brightness, with herbes de Provence, cigar ash, red currants and citrus rind all coming together in the glass. I get hoisin sauce and leather that mingle with the lovely herbal tones and red fruits. This wine, rich and fresh, is a great value.  The 2016 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon would deliver similar value but costs $9.99, not $6.99. Drink 2019-2025. Highly recommended.

Tan: I’m picking up currant and dry fruit from the grenache and blackberry and cocoa from the syrah. This is why wine connoisseurs shell out money for a Costco membership: It’s hard to even find a stellar table red at this price point elsewhere. Highly recommended.

 

The 2018 Kirkland Signature California Cabernet Sauvignon
was not recommended. “Owen suggested using it to cook beef bourguignon,” Tan Vinh said, “but that might be an insult to beef.” (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
The 2018 Kirkland Signature California Cabernet Sauvignon was not recommended. “Owen suggested using it to cook beef bourguignon,” Tan Vinh said, “but that might be an insult to beef.” (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

2018 Kirkland Signature California Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Alcohol volume: 13%
  • Purchased from: Sodo branch
  • Price: $7.99 for a 1.5-liter bottle; $12.99 for a 3-liter box

Owen: This delivers red and dark-fruit flavors that are excessively sweet with oaky tones. This is a headache in a bottle. Tried this out of the 3-liter box and it tastes similar in both packagings. Drink 2019-2022. Not recommended.

Tan: Owen and I are staring at each other like, “We have 4 liters of this crap, what should we do with it?” Owen suggested using it to cook beef bourguignon, but that might be an insult to beef. I’m thinking sangria. Not recommended.

 

The 2018 Kirkland Signature Malbec
costs just $6.99 and “will provide drinking enjoyment for another five to seven years” says sommelier Owen Bargreen. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
The 2018 Kirkland Signature Malbec costs just $6.99 and “will provide drinking enjoyment for another five to seven years” says sommelier Owen Bargreen. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

2018 Kirkland Signature Malbec

  • Alcohol volume: 13.5% 
  • Purchased from: Everett branch
  • Price: $6.99

Owen: Sourced from Mendoza, this Malbec delivers good richness and density, with black tea, violets and blackberry pie with chocolate flavors. This is fantastic right now, and will provide drinking enjoyment for another five to seven years. Drink 2019-2025. Highly recommended.

Tan: If you served me this at your fancy-schmancy dinner, I would be delighted. I would not have guessed this was a $6.99 wine. Highly recommended.