Costco's Kirkland Wine: Napa Cabernet and Sonoma Chardonnay

Wine Under $20

Seeking the best value for the buck.


The vast majority of the wine section of our local Costco isn't house-brand wine. There's Cupcake and and Columbia Crest and Veuve Clicquot alongside the $20 Kirkland Champagne. We weren't wild about that sparkler (at that price point), but we were curious about the less expensive options in the Kirkland wine line, so we picked up the Kirkland Signature Napa Cabernet, which sells for $12.89, and their $8.99 Sonoma Chardonnay. (The line doesn't stop there: they also sell an Argentinian Malbec, a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, and many more options, but those weren't on the sales floor when we stopped by.)

Did these cheaper bottles fare better than the Champagne? That depends on what you're looking for.

Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Chardonnay, 2009

This is a fruity California Chardonnay with a little bit of a tropical side—think super-ripe pineapple and a hint of banana. It's better than Yellowtail for the money, but it won't be everyone's favorite style. The fruity flavors are propped up on a sweet oaky background, so if you like your Chards ripe and laced with toasty vanilla flavors, this is a good wine for you. Serve it with a white pizza or spaghetti carbonara.

We weren't wild about this wine, and if you're looking for value in Chardonnay, we'd point you toward the Cono Sur Chardonnay from Chile, which was one of the best values in our Amateur Wine Taste Along last spring.

Kirkland Signature Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009

We liked the Cab better than the Chardonnay—this is the bottle that got finished at our post-wine-tasting family dinner. Up front, it has a nice tartness, and at the core, this medium bodied wine is friendly and fruity, like chocolate-covered Bing cherries. Throw it in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving to bring out the food-friendly acids.

The downside to this wine was an oaky sweetness on the finish which we didn't love, but all in all, this was a good bargain for $12.89. Keep in mind that this is a fruitier Cab—it's not earthy or herbal like many higher end options, but it's smooth and ready for weeknight drinking. Serve with a juicy burger, spaghetti bolognese, or steak on the grill.

Though this wine is drinkable, it doesn't hold a candle to Hayman & Hill's Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Selection, which sells for around $13, as well. Track it down.