Photo of two bottles and glasses of rose from Trader Joe's, one from California, the other from France

For Poolside Sipping: Two Bargain Trader Joe’s Rosés

These two rosés from Trader Joe’s couldn’t be more different.  But at well under $10 each, that doesn’t mean you won’t love them both!

Fast facts:

  • 2018 Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Rosé, Napa Valley ($5.99 @Trader Joe’s,  California)
  • 2018 St. Sagnol Rosé, Provence, France ($6.99 @Trader Joe’s,  California)
Photo of two bottles and glasses of rose from Trader Joe's, one from California, the other from France
Two rosés from Trader Joe’s, one from Napa, California and the other from Provence, France. Like night and day…

A wise person once quipped: “all wine is born white.”

That is because without contact with the grape skins (and a process known as maceration) there would be no red wine.

But there would likely still be pink wine.

Maceration refers to the winemaking process where the color, flavor and tannins are transferred from the grape skins to the wine juice.  This process, which occurs early in the magical process of transforming grape juice into wine and over a period of days, is largely responsible for a wine’s color, body, mouth-feel and ability to age.

It explains why grapes that are commonly thought of as red wines (Grenache, Syrah and/or Cinsault for example) can produce wines that are almost white.  But even if the skins are promptly separated from the juice, they often still impart a little hint of a red hue, which blessedly gives us…rosé wines.

Rosé wines can be made by a number of different winemaking processes, but today there are two methods most commonly used:

  1. The saignée (pronounced sohn-YAY) method of rosé production involves bleeding off juice (sometimes referred to as “free-run”) after limited contact with the skins.
  2. Blending.  Today many rosés are made “the easy way” by simply blending a very small amount of red wine into big vessel of white wine.  Purists often dismiss wines made via this method as somehow less authentic than those made by the saignée method, although this conveniently overlooks the fact that this blending method is used to make rosé Champagne.

One of the things that makes these two rosés an interesting study in contrasts is that each represents these different methods of making pink wine.

2018 Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Rosé, Napa Valley

I can say with certainty that this wine is a blend of red and white wine.  It tastes like a white wine, but that is not to say that the dollop of red wine in the blend does not contribute the notes of strawberry, raspberry, watermelon and light spice.

It’s not terribly complex, and the finish is a little short. It is round and fruity and almost tricks you into thinking it has some residual sweetness to it. But it’s dry, and certainly refreshing on a warm summer day when enjoying snacks like potato chips, popcorn and cheese and crackers on the patio.

Not surprising given its California roots, it tastes like a new world wine, fruit forward and soft.  There is nothing not to like about this wine, except perhaps its color.  As you can see in the photo above, it is an electric light magenta color – maybe the winemaker will dial back the red wine dollop in the mix for the 2019 vintage.

2018 St. Sagnol Rosé, Provence, France

Provence is synonymous with rosé, and nearly 90% of the wines produced there are pink.I have to credit Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer with introducing me to this wine.  Here is what they had to say about it:

“Made in the heart of Provence, France, St. Sagnol Rosé benefits from the region’s generous sun exposure & mistral winds, which produce a style & quality of rosé not found anywhere else. A blend of Cinsault, Grenache, & Syrah grapes yields a fresh, vibrant, pale-pink wine with peachy flavors & a crisp finish. A favorite in our wine section for several summers and counting, this Rosé makes a superb aperitif or a cool companion at a concert in the park. It’s also right at home at a brunch buffet or an afternoon cookout, pairing nicely with omelets & pastries or grilled shellfish & veggie slaws.”

Of the two, I preferred this wine. I also really like its distinctive, fun bottle. There are still remnants of traditional winemaking in the Côtes de Provence such as this traditional wine bottle called a “corset” by the locals.

You could pick up both bottles for under $15 and put them to your own taste test. Let us know in the comments section which one you preferred.  And if you want to revisit one of our recent reviews of Costco rosés, you can do that here

Until next week,


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