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The Definitive Ranking of Aldi's Winking Owl Wine

23 October 2020 | 0 comments | Posted by Hannah Morelli in Masterchefs

Winking owl wine guide

As I wandered around my local Aldi supermarket, I couldn't help but notice a wine brand with a cute owl listed for $2.95 a bottle. Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinots, and Cabs…All for under $3.00 each.

Could it be? Or maybe more accurately, could it be too good to be true? Being the detective I am, I immediately whipped out my phone to read google reviews of this insanely inexpensive vino. There's nothing like the internet to give you the good, the bad, and the ugly. The problem was most of the reviews were all over the place.

On a frequented wine rating website, 57 people gave the Chardonnay 5 stars, while 62 others gave it a 1-star rating. That's a bit of a difference. Most varietals averaged around a 3.2 out of 5 stars, but with the discrepancy between reviewer opinions, I decided I'd have to investigate for myself. Below are the results and notes of an unsophisticated wino.

Pinot Grigio

  • ABV: 11.5 %
  • Colour: Nearly transparent with a tinge of ivory, the most transparent of all the Winking Owl wines
  • Smells like: A pleasant, sweet champagne
  • Rating: 10 out of 10

This one is my overall favourite of the Winking Owl collection. It is extremely smooth and drinkable without being overly sugary. It has the perfect balance of sweet vs tangy, and I could easily drink several ice-cold glasses of this on a hot summer day. It has the perfect amount of carbonation, a crisp apple flavour, and is wonderfully refreshing. For less than three dollars, this is worth every penny and then some.

Moscato

  • ABV: 8 %
  • Colour: An extremely pale yellow, similar to a lemon drop martini
  • Smells like: Honey, ripe oranges, and sweet hibiscus
  • Rating: 9 out of 10

Of all the Winking Owl varieties, Moscato averages the highest, according to vivino.com. And with a 3.8 out of 5-star rating, it isn't hard to see why. The flavour is that of a light honey mead, but without a sickeningly syrupy taste. Due to the inherent sweetness that all Moscato's have, I probably wouldn't want to drink more than a glass or two, but it would be delightful served chilled as an after-dinner dessert treat. Most Moscato wines are around 5-7% ABV, and this being 8%, I was slightly hesitant there might be a cheap alcohol taste; however, I was happily surprised that you really can't taste the alcohol in this.

Sauvignon Blanc

  • ABV: 13 %
  • Colour: Yellowish Beige
  • Smells like: A half-dried lemon Clorox wipe
  • Rating: 4 out of 10

I really wanted to like this wine, but it just wasn't my favourite. The flavour is overwhelmingly sour, and you get an immediate burn that reminds me of a lemon drop shooter. It's 13% alcohol, and I could taste every percent. Although light-bodied, the flavour reminds me of a watered-down cleaning solution. I recommend spending a few extra dollars for a slightly better brand, as this one you (sadly) do get what you pay for.

Chardonnay 

  • ABV: 12 %
  • Colour: Greenish straw gold
  • Smells like: Hints of lemon, not very aromatic compared to the other Winking Owl white wines
  • Ranking: 2 out of 10 

This wine is by far my least favourite of the Winking Owls. I would rather drink boxed Chardonnay over this bottle. The flavour just screams caustic and cheap. It tastes like an extremely pungent sour apple jolly rancher. I've drunk a lot of cheap Chardonnay in my life, but this one has to be the worst. The only reason it gets a two is that I may potentially be able to cook with it. You will not get $3.00 of enjoyment by drinking this; I assure you.

White Zinfandel

  • ABV: 8.5 %
  • Colour: Light Rose, resembles a Shirley temple
  • Smells like: Peaches and faint raspberries
  • Rating: 7 out of 10

I was pleasantly surprised by how refreshing and easy to drink this wine is. It has a very nice fruity and tangy flavour and would be excellent as a brunch drink in lieu of a mimosa. It is super smooth and tastes like a non-alcoholic Washington apple. I love the hints of pineapple, strawberries, and how well-balanced/not overly sweet it is. This wine is a great value for the price.

Shiraz

  • ABV: 13.5 %
  • Colour: Midnight purple
  • Smells like: A super aromatic red wine blend
  • Rating: 8 out of 10

This is the most full-bodied of any of the Winking Owl wines. It has hints of blackberries and plum with a slightly spicy kick. It is exceptionally flavorful, especially compared to the other Winking Owl red wines. It is easy to sip and would be delicious paired with a hard cheese on a cold winter night. If you want the most complex of the W.O red wines, this is your winner.

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • ABV: 12 %
  • Colour: Black cherry red
  • Smells like: Slightly floral but not overly aromatic, especially for a typical Cab
  • Rating: 7 out of 10

I must admit that I believe most Cab drinkers would not give this wine a 7 out of 10. It is extremely weak-bodied, and most would probably describe it as watery. I personally don't mind the toned-down flavour and thought it was extremely drinkable for this reason. It is not very complex and has a very fruity, sweet flavour. If you don't like sweet, weak-bodied cabs, this is not the wine for you.

Merlot

  • ABV: 12 %
  • Colour: Very opaque, deep ruby red
  • Smells like: Barrel-aged whiskey, very oaky smell
  • Rating: 6 out of 10

The merlot was very dry with an oaky, alcohol-forward taste. It isn't terrible, but it is my least favourite of the Winking Owl red wines. It has quite a tart flavour profile and is also thin-bodied as far as merlots go. It seems reasonable for the price point, and I'd best enjoy this with a tomato-based pasta dish. If you don't mind a merlot that lacks body or finish, this might be the one for you!

My final impression of the range 

Overall, I think most of these wines are pretty dang wonderful for the price. The only ones that are questionable, in my opinion, are the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and I recommend saving those specifically for cooking. For less than three dollars each, the Pinot Grigio, Moscato, and Shiraz are an impressive budget wine to sip and enjoy with your family or friends.

If you're curious, I recommend giving your favourite type a try; it's only three dollars after all.

About the author

Hannah Morelli is an English teacher and travel writer from Farmington, Michigan. When she isn't travelling the world or writing travel-related articles, she enjoys budget-friendly wine and reliving her world travels through her book "Hantom's Odyssey" available on Amazon.

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Recommended reading

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