Trader Joe’s has wine and food: Here’s how to pair the two

Trader Joe's store
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For ages, Trader Joe’s has offered bargain groceries and its own line of tasty, ready-to-eat dishes. Turns out, the grocery chain has some decent wine options, too, most of which stay well below the $20 mark.

That got us thinking: Why aren’t we pairing these items? Food and wine love each other and at a place like Trader Joe’s (TJ’s), you can come away with a great meal and accompanying wine that needs little more than to be heated up and poured into a glass, respectively.

After all, it’s no fun to have to drive all over town in the name of a good, wine-friendly dinner. It’s more fun (and less of a chore) to simply go to one spot — Trader Joe’s — and come away with a solid meal without spending an arm and a leg.

TJ’s has long wowed customers with inexpensive drinks. The chain popularized Two Buck Chuck back in the day and continues to offer a wide array of cheap but decidedly quaffable wines. And in the era of $12 cartons of eggs and supply chain shortages, we could use the assist. No, these are not the wines that are going to fetch 100-point ratings from the critics. But they will make an inexpensive TJ’s dinner all the better — guaranteed.

Trader Joe’s wine is dependable and food-friendly, especially if you know what you’re doing. Read on for advice on pairing some of TJ’s most popular foods with wines you can find right there at the store. Happy eating!

White wine
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Spatchcooked Sweet & Savory Chicken and Espiral Vinho Verde

As with most things Trader Joe’s, this butterflied piece of protein is ready to go. It’s been cut nicely for you and treated to the fall-friendly mix of Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and more. There’s a lot of flavor here and because of that, a simple wine does the job exceptionally well. Pair the chicken with

or similar. The light Portuguese white wine refreshes against the saltiness of the poultry and the green apple notes do well alongside the sweetness of the chicken skin and slight pungent qualities of the mustard. Plus, the slight sparkle to the wine makes it a little celebratory, which is fun.

Red wine pouring.
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Butternut Squash Italian Lasagna and Villa Cerrina Montepulciano

Trader Joe’s has worked with this brand for years and it’s no wonder. While the wine won’t blow your mind, it does completely over-deliver at its low, low price point. And while the Italian red sips OK on its own, the wine is markedly better with a dish like lasagna that can cut into it a bit. The earthy sauce, rosemary, and rich and nutty components play well with the balanced fruit flavors of the wine. The Montepulciano is not very acidic, but there’s a concentration of the fruit that accompanies the creaminess of the lasagna quite well.

Trader Joe's Hatch Chile Cheese Dip
Trader Joe’s

Roasted Hatch Chile and Jalapeno Cheese Dip with Honey Moon Viognier

Viognier is a great option here, as the white tends to be a bit bulkier and can stand up to the cheesy goodness on hand. Better, the varietal loves to hang out in the company of spicy food. The quaffable nature of the

takes the sting out of the peppers and the big peachy notes work in harmony with all that cheddar. Serve it nice and chilled. And try the mac and cheese version of this dish as well if you want more than an appetizer.

Red wine being poured into glass
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Balsamic Rosemary Beef Steak Tips with Grand Reserve Zinfandel

Yep, Trader Joe’s has its own line of wine, too. The reserve level is the best, and most bottles still come in around $12 per. The

works great with red meat, especially these steak tips. There’s a boldness that stands up to the protein while the cacao and rich berry components fare well with the balsamic treatment. Open the wine up a bit early as you’re cooking and let a bit of the heat blow off.

Pizzas on oven racks
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Pizza Margherita with Petit Reserve Rosé

Of the many great frozen pizzas out there, TJ’s makes one of the best. The Margherita is simple, as the pizza style should be, and is enhanced by a middle-of-the-road wine. In other words, not quite a red, a little more than a white. Yes, pink wine. We like this

, a crisp number that plays off the brightness of the pizza sauce.

Chardonnay on barrel.
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Chicken Tikka Masala with High Guard Chardonnay

gets the call-up here, as it has enough muscle (bolstered by some oak) to work with the tikka masala. Those bread-y vanilla notes play off of the creamy sauce and make the cumin pop. This frozen wonder first dropped back in 2009 and it’s been a Trader Joe’s staple since. If you feel like a red wine, try it with a grenache or syrah.

Trader Joe's gyoza.
Trader Joe’s

Thai Vegetable Gyoza with Blue Shell Sauvignon Blanc

The veggie gyoza can be enjoyed on its own or made into a meal, preferably on a bed of rice with additional vegetables (and/or tofu) and a soy sesame-type dressing. Asian cuisine tends to do exceptionally well with

, as the wine’s acidity, grassy elements, and tropical fruit cut into the umami characteristic, and in this case, don’t overwhelm the vegetables.

As always, get creative and expand beyond what’s listed above. Don’t forget to chat up your TJ’s wine steward for additional advice and keep sparkling wine in mind. As we head deeper into fall and winter, we tend to eat heartier, richer meals that do exceptionally well with bubbles.

Need some more ideas? Check out our guide to pairing takeout and wine and how to pair seafood and wine. We’ve also got a feature on wine pairing myths so you know what you’re doing.

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