Costco has it all. Food, clothing, entertainment, fresh pizza, eye exams, and yes, sometimes booze. And all at some pretty affordable prices. So, let’s talk about the wine.
Each state has different regulations regarding alcohol sales at stores like Costco, so across the country you will find a varying selection, or potentially no alcohol at all. The availability of certain wines can also differ greatly at each store, whether over the border from Colorado to Nebraska or even just between counties.
What is constant though, is at each Costco that sells wine, customers can find the Kirkland Signature brand. These are wines from around the world, including the U.S., that have Costco’s iconic private label attached to them.
Some of the wines come from some very well-known, expensive, and prestigious places like Napa Valley and Barolo, but at less than a third of the price. So what are they like? Is it worth spending much less on wines that average around $50 to start? Well, we did the work.
We rounded up as many of these bottles as we could find and gave it a go using the typical standards we put in place for all of our tastings. Below is this tastings director’s take on 15 Kirkland Signature wines.
15. Kirkland Signature Barolo 2019
The wines of Barolo are some of the most age-worthy wines in the world. Made from the Nebbiolo grape, they are filled with complex aromas like the inviting warmth of worn leather or the engaging waft of a rose petal. They also are usually high-ish in alcohol but don’t show that heat on the palate. They are stunning wines that transcend. A good way to really get a sense of this grape and not spend too much, because really representative Barolo usually starts at 40 bucks and goes up from there, is to buy Langhe Nebbiolo. Langhe is the larger wine region that encompasses Barolo, so these wines are made close to the famous area and really show what Nebbiolo is capable of outside of the more esteemed zone. This wine unfortunately does not show what Nebboilo can do. The nose has shadows of itself that don’t come to fruition, pun intended, and the palate is lean and not filled out. For the price, pick up a bottle from the Langhe instead, it will really pack a punch.
14. Kirkland Signature Brunello di Montalcino 2018
The wines of Montalcino are made from the Brunello clone of the Sangiovese grape and require an impressive amount of aging, currently a minimum of four years, and five for riserva wines. The aging requirements are so intense that they created a separate tier called Rosso di Montalcino to allow winemakers to generate revenue while their sleeping giants rest. This means that even when the wines are eventually released, they can still be massive. This wine is not massive. It’s lean with underdeveloped fruit and a palate that lacks depth and personality. I promise if you take the less-than-$30 you would spend on this wine and find any Rosso di Montalcino you can get your hands on, you will get a better sense of what these wines want to give.
13. Kirkland Signature Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020
Chianti Classico DOCG is an area within the general Chianti DOC zone that was the original real Chianti region before it expanded, hence the Classico. These wines are focused and juicy with amazing aromas of cherries, cranberries, and earth. And they are not not crazy expensive. Unfortunately, this wine does not hit Chianti’s quintessential characteristics. This wine is gassy (smells like gasoline). The fruit is rendered inert due to the odd petrol wafting up, and the palate is astringent and lacks focus. There are so many Classico wines out there for a good price. I feel like for the best experience, it is a better bet to choose a wine that is made by a dedicated producer.
12. Kirkland Signature Prosecco Rosé DOC
The pink category is new to Prosecco in an official capacity. It is a blend of the region’s native Glera grape, which is used to make the typical Prosecco wines, with some added Pinot Noir for color. What to look for is rich, round fruit brought to you by Pinot Noir and a crisp acidity and high-toned fruit that the Glera grape specializes in. And they are not crazy expensive. This one is a little neutral on the nose with no real Pinot Noir or Glera aromas. The palate is bitter with no fruit quality. And the bubbles unfortunately pronounce its more unbalanced qualities. It may be best to grab a bottle at a slightly higher price point. Twenty dollars will get you that delicious, juicy bubbly.
11. Kirkland Signature Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG
The DOCG designation on an Italian wine label is reserved for the country’s most prestigious wines, which often entails stricter production regulations compared to the DOC wines. However, the Prosecco DOCG wines are still quite affordable. The nose has a nice earthy white flower vibe and the bubbles are nice and calm. On the palate, the fruit lacks balance and has a slightly bitter note on the finish. Being a DOCG, there are stricter requirements in the winemaking process, so a pricer bottle would likely show a better representation of this subregion of Prosecco. It’s usually best to buy a DOCG Prosecco that doesn’t have a third-party brand name on it.
10. Kirkland Signature Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
Napa is Cab country. It’s also our only real fine-wine region. So when a Napa Cab comes in at $15, it can be a hit or a miss. Unfortunately, this one is a miss. It’s not that the wine is terrible, it is just not representative of the place. The nose has fruit, but it’s a bit raisinated and sharp, putting any oak flavors in the background. The palate is juicy and thick, but lacks complexity. Even though a fine wine is not expected at this price point, some characteristics of the grape, such as deep fruit and big oak, would be nice.
9. Kirkland Signature Friuli Grave Pinot Grigio 2021
Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy is one of the most ubiquitous white wines on the shelves of American wine aisles. There are so many, and most of them are very affordable. This bottle doesn’t hit that value-to-quality mark. It has all the makings of a great Pinot Grigio on the nose with some minerality and punchy fruit. But on the palate the fruit disappears, making it feel a little watered down. At five bucks you get what you pay for. It might be a better experience to try this style at the $12 to $15 price point. There are definitely other very affordable examples out there.
8. Kirkland Signature California Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 (Box Wine)
How fun is boxed wine? It’s such a laid back category. Big ol’ box in a casual setting drawing glass after glass with your besties, grillin and chillin. It’s great. All that is asked for red wines is to be big and juicy with good acidity and some balance. It doesn’t even have to really give complexity or any real nuance. Just good juice. This wine is almost there. It has big juicy fruit and good acidity, but it’s a little off. The fruit, although big, has a slight bitter note. It might be a better bet to choose a red blend or Malbec for a box; this one just doesn’t have the classic Cab characteristics.
7. Kirkland Signature Carneros Napa Valley Pinot Noir 2021
It’s REALLY tough to get a Pinot Noir under $20 that has balance. The grape tends to lose its subtleties as the production scales up. When this happens, the 75 percent rule kicks in and other varieties are added, filling up that last 25 percent for color and some complexity. Unfortunately, this wine is an example of Pinot Noir’s scalability conundrum. The nose is too thin, not giving the ripe cherry vibes it wants to give. The palate has a drying sensation instead of the expected juicy depth of fruit. This grape is tricky and often requires about 30 to 50 bucks to get that balance. However, 20 bucks will get you close.
6. Kirkland Signature 10 Year Old Tawny Porto
The word tawny for a port wine label is an indication of the hue of the wine. Often the grapes used for this style produce lighter wines and age long enough to lose their ruby color (which is seen in ruby port) and take on an amber color, hence the word tawny. Sometimes a small proportion of white port is added to lighten up the look. This bottle has some of that tawny-ness and classic aromas of caramel and butterscotch. On the palate the richness of the fruit is muted a bit and doesn’t flow with what you get on the nose. Tawny ports are more aperitif-friendly, but with this one some veiny blue cheese might make up for the lack of depth on the palate.
5. Kirkland Signature Malbec Mendoza 2021
Malbec is at its best when it’s big and juicy with deep dark fruit and a medium lift on the palate that helps pair with steak, cuz, Argentina. This one comes so close. It doesn’t quite get there but that’s OK. The nose and palate are rich if not deep, and there is a slight sour note in the background messing with the fruit a bit but it’s not overwhelming. The palate is grippy with some tannin but the acidity kind of lessens the impact of the fruit. For the price it’s not bad, but maybe cook up some lean skirt steaks that match that dryness.
4. Kirkland Signature Moscato d’Asti
There are so many affordable Moscatos out there. And it’s hard to sift through all the brands trying to find one that has that right balance of sweetness and bubbles. Look no further. This is some serious weeknight fizz. Soft and sweet on the nose with a dose of minerals. Calm bubbles waft up like a lazy afternoon. It’s not cloying, which is an accomplishment at this price.
3. Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Chardonnay 2021
American Chardonnay. It has come a long way. At one time wines made from this grape here were defined by high alcohol, significant oak, and a flavor profile dripping with butter. This wine brings back those memories, but doesn’t hit you over the head with heat. The nose of this wine is an American classic. Butter and sweet, toasty vanilla come at you fast and steady on the nose. Usually Chardonnays in this style clock in at a high alcohol but this bottle is in that sweet spot of 13.5 percent. And that’s what makes it a winner. The palate has all of the aromas on the nose with an added creamy texture and a nice even finish. Great everyday Chard.
2. Kirkland Signature Côtes de Provence Rosé
It’s the original. Provence. The region that taught the U.S. how to rosé. With so many pink bottles out there it’s great that this is an easy grab-and-go. It has some nice juicy floral and honey notes along with a hint of ripe peach. The palate is soft and vibrant with great acidity and balanced fruit. The mouthfeel has a slight grip to it, which offers a nice framework for this vibrant wine. This screams sunny weather or even a light holiday wine.
1. Kirkland Signature Rioja Reserva 2018
In the world of wine, one of the best deals on the planet has to be Rioja. You can even find aged reserva wines going back a decade for around $40. This one is also a steal. It’s classic Tempranillo (probably with some Garnacha or Graciano, Rioja’s other red grapes) that has leathery berry fruit on the nose and an earthy, juicy palate with great acidity. You won’t believe this wine is the price that it is so grab a big ol’ economy-size rack of lamb and fire up that grill.
Does Costco make its own wine?
No, Costco does not make the Kirkland Signature wines. The company sources wine from different wineries through producer partnerships, then private labels the wine under the Kirkland brand. While the range of wines Costco offers comes from a variety of different producers, sometimes you can find which winery bottled the wine on the back label. For example, the Kirkland Signature Chianti Classico Riserva indicates that the wine was crafted by the team at Villa Cafaggio Estate.
Where do Kirkland Signature wines come from?
The brand works with wineries from around the world to offer wines from iconic, well-known regions to Costco customers. Shoppers can find wine from Italy, France, Spain, and Argentina, as well as from several regions within the U.S. like Napa Valley, Sonoma, and Washington State. The selection at each Costco location might be slightly different, with stores on the West Coast sometimes offering more wines from the local area.
Do I need a Costco membership to buy Kirkland Signature wines?
Well, it depends. As mentioned above, the regulations surrounding wine sales at Costco vary state by state. Therefore, in some states you need a membership to purchase the Kirkland brand wines and in some you don’t. Check out our map for a full picture of where customers can buy wine at Costco.