Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Trader Joe's Sparkling White Chardonnay Grape Juice

I've always been terrified of champagne bottles. It has something to do with the deafening pop and the lethal projectile that shoots out of the nozzle when you open it. 

On our honeymoon, Sonia and I had a couple of bottles thanks to some of our good friends. Each night, I'd try a new technique to open the bottle. I tried prying the cork off with a knife. I tried shaking the bottle like they do in the movies. That one's a great method if you don't mind wasting half the bottle and getting wine all over the room. So then I tried opening the bottle while holding it over the shower. 

Sonia offered to try, but like a good husband, my protective instinct (AKA foolish pride) kicked in, and I insisted on performing the risky task myself, night after night, adding one more thing to stress over on top of my already fraying nerves.

This bottle is no exception. Only this time, it's not champagne, it's chardonnay. But it's non-alcoholic chardonnay. It's apparently still "chardonnay," because it's made with actual Chardonnay grapes from Spain. Sorry, booze-hounds.You'll have to do all of the work associated with a regular champagne bottle, and alas, there's no buzz inside.

Nonetheless, this stuff makes a pretty good glass of bubbly for New Year's and such, especially if you're the designated driver, a non-drinker, or a law-abiding under-21-year-old. It's right in the middle of the dry/sweet spectrum, maybe favoring sweet just a bit, yet not feeling syrupy at all. It almost tastes a little appley to me. It tastes like a very high quality cider...like maybe a sparkling grape cider with a dash of apple juice...?

The carbonation level seemed just about perfect to me. Just the right amount of bubbles. Enough to tickle my mouth, but not so much that it burns. Sonia thinks it's very similar to dessert wines she's tried, but without the alcohol.

It was $2.99 at our local TJ's. That's a pretty good price for an item made with imported grapes. It's very high quality, and we'd definitely buy it again for another special occasion.

Sonia gives it 4 out of 5 stars. We're absolutely on the same page with this one. It's been a while since we've reviewed a beverage on here, and it's always nice to be able to say that Trader Joe's has produced another winner.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.


  1. The label scared me off!... 'grape juice'? realized it wasn't THE grape juice I was having visions of.. Tho I am disappointed no 'natural' alcohol is in it.

  2. When I open a bottle of sparkling wine, I cover the top with a kitchen towel, hold onto the cork and turn the bottle. Very unexciting with no great pop or fizzy overflow but none of the wine is lost.

  3. bentley1530, you're a genius! I'll try that next time...

    I'm sure you could find something to mix it with, KBF...

  4. I'm in total agreement with bentley1530, I do the same method. turn the cork slooooowwwly with the towel and away from your face, and bam, no wine is lost in the process.

  5. i hope you know you can just twist it off with your hand. LOL. it doesnt fly out of your hand either, just saying.

    1. I was not aware of that...maybe I'm just not strong enough to twist it off...