The Primitivo on the left, the Aglianico on the right. Both from Epicuro. Both from Trader Joe's. Both $4.99. Most importantly, both are solidly satisfying.

The Best Wine $4.99 Can Buy? You Decide!

Fast facts:

  • 2018 Epicuro Primitivo, Puglia, Italy ($4.99 @Trader Joe’s,  California)
  • 2018  Epicuro Aglianico, Puglia, Italy ($4.99 @Trader Joe’s,  California) 
Bottle and glass of Epicuro Aglianico and Primitivo from Trader Joe's. Both pack a lot of fruity goodness for just $4.99.
The Epicuro Aglianico and Primitivo from Trader Joe are remarkably similar in flavor, but both pack a lot of fruity goodness for just $4.99 a bottle.


Before we get into the meat of this review, let’s start with this bottom line observation: you arguably can’t find wines made in the U.S. that taste this good at this low a price. There, we said it.

As we have observed regularly here, the killer values in the wine world still seem predominantly to originate from Europe, especially Spain, France, Portugal and Italy – all part of the larger fraternity commonly referred to as “old world” wines.

While these two are not the kind of wines that will make you swoon, they are solid, tasty high QPR wines.  Think of them as “weekday wines.”   There’s plenty of time to swoon on the weekend.


Tasting Notes:

Aglianico: Nice nose. Rich and meaty flavors; plus cherry and plum, followed by black pepper, tobacco and anise. Dry, spicy finish with notes of mocha. Firm tannins and balanced acidity.

Primitivo: we found this to be the more food-friendly of the two, but as we have pointed out, both wines have similar profiles. It begins with an aromatic nose of tart cherry/berry flavors along with licorice and spice notes. It finishes impressively long for a wine at this low a price.


While Primitivo is genetically the same grape as Zinfandel, the Epicuro rendition is a distinctly Italian tasting wine versus what is typically found with California Zinfandel which tend to be more plush and jammy.  Thus this Italian would – not surprisingly – pair really well with pizza and pastas with red sauce. But it would pair equally well with grilled foods and burgers.  It’s what we in the wine trade refer to as  a “porch pounder.”

This Aglianico (pronounced “ahl-YAH-nee-koe”) is more of a “simple sipper.”  The slightly colder climate that is ideal for this grape produces garnet-colored, tannic wines.  That’s a good thing.  It’s just that their plummy chocolate flavors make them a bit more challenging for food pairing.

Puglia is in Southern Italy – the toe, heel, and ankle of the Italian “boot.” There are scores of fascinating indigenous grape varieties here, different winemaking traditions and styles are defining each region, and the wines are often less expensive than their Northern counterparts.

Puglia and Sicily produce huge volumes of wine, and they are battling to be the second biggest wine producing region in Italy. The hot climate is reflected in the wines and they are famous for their inexpensive, full bodied, warm, and fruit forward red wines like these two.

Order up your favorite “pie” and take these wines out for a test drive.

Photo of pizza and slice


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