The first Trader Joes opened in South Pasadena in 1967 and today there are 464 stores across 41 states. Of course, wine has been around a lot longer, and with the popularity of Trader Joe’s easy format food, you need wines to match. So I looked at the most popular items purchased at Trader Joes and picked the best wines to go with them.
2015 Apothic Red + Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Why it Works: Apothic, a jammy blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot has a touch of residual sugar and this slight sweetness works with not only with the semi sweet chocolate but the creamy peanut butter as well, striking a balance. Since Apothic is not totally dry the black cherry and blackberry characteristics find a companion in the not overtly sweet peanut butter cups, and the combo is like pb&j.
How To Work It: Apothic should be slightly chilled with the peanut butter cups at room temperature.
(Bonus Tip: Chill the PB cups in the fridge for an added decadent sensation).
2015 Amici Sauvignon Blanc + Mandarin Orange Chicken
Why it Works: Amici is that classic Napa Sauvignon Blanc; light, bright, herbaceous, with pear, lemon-lime and hints of passion fruit, stainless steel fermented, slightly creamy and great on acidity. By contrast the chicken glaze is a mildly sweet thick orange and ginger sauce and the bright citrus notes of the wine make all the flavors come alive. The sweet of the glaze enhances the herbal and citrus of the wine.
How To Work It: Keep the Sauvignon Blanc chilled and use minimal glaze. Too much and the sweetness overtakes everything.
(Bonus Tip: Add fresh cut scallions to enhance the wine and food).
2013 Cadaretta Cabernet Sauvignon + Wood Fired Naples-Style Uncured Pepperoni Pizza
Why it Works: From Washington State comes this earthy Cabernet that explodes with black berry, black cherry, sweet vanilla and mild acidity and since the pepperoni here is uncured (less salty), you get a more mild iteration of the meat along with a zesty red sauce. Therefore the Cabernet compliments the pizza and the subtle wood-fired crust, almost like a campfire note, to make the wine even more expressive.
How To Work It: The pizza can either be warm or cold, but the wine needs to be
at room temperature.
(Bonus Tip: Top the pizza with fresh basil for herbaceous notes).
Decoy 2016 Sonoma County Chardonnay + Soy Chorizo
Why it Works: This Decoy is 100% Chardonnay and 90% stainless steel fermented giving it a bright acidity which works in alignment with the spicy nature of this vegan chorizo, not in contrast to it. Therefore you get a hearty palate full of flavors. From there you can decide on using the chorizo as a nacho topping, in a taco, on a salad. The citrusy zesty chardonnay slightly heightens the earthy spice.
How To Work It: This pairing is best when the chorizo is hot, as long as the Chardonnay is super cold.
(Bonus Tip: Mix cold sour cream with the hot chorizo).
2014 Stoke’s Ghost Petite Sirah + Hatch Mac ‘n Cheese
Why it Works: Sustainably-farmed Petite Sirah from Hames Valley Vineyard in the southern part of Monterey County produces jammy fruit, boysenberry, black cherry, huckleberry with mild tannins and acidity, which in turn allows the slight spiciness of the Hatch chilies to be showcased. The creamy, cheesy, gooey dish is enhanced by the berry flavor and acidity of the wine.
How To Work It: This works best when the food is hot and the wine is slightly chilled.
(Bonus Tip: Sprinkle smoked paprika on the Mac for an earthier dynamic).