How to Navigate the Wine Aisle

If you’re like us, you always take wayyyy too long perusing the wine aisle at the grocery store, and either leave with the same wine every time, or pick a bottle because it has a cute label (guilty!). We’re all about being more educated wine shoppers, so we reached out to the experts for a few tricks to keep in mind next time you find yourself in the wine section of Trader Joe’s. Jacki Strum is the founder of ThirstyNest – The first ever wine and spirits registry for your wedding – and has over 15 years of experience in the wine industry! Basically, she knows what she’s talking about. Read on for her best advice on how to navigate the wine aisle whether you are hosting a wine and cheese night or just looking for a refreshing bottle to sip on the patio.  

How to Pick Out Wine

Whenever you’re shopping for wine there are a few things to take into consideration to help you select the perfect bottle. Think flavor, food, and occasion!  


Go with your gut and never feel ashamed of buying what you like! Here are a few ideas depending what you most enjoy. 

– Big fruity soft wines? Try Carmenere from Chile. It’s like a more affordable Merlot with a Spanish accent.  

– More earthy bright wines? I always love Barbera from Italy. They have nice earthy tones with bright acidity.  

– Big, Bold Richness? Cabernet and Zinfandel from the Golden State, California!  

– Mouth-watering acidic whites? New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc always packs a PUNCH. 

– Creamy, dreamy whites? Try a white Burgundy which is – yes – Chardonnay but slightly more tempered than it’s classic West Coast cousin.  

How to Pick Out Wine


Same with Same and Opposite with Opposite – This trick works perfectly for a majority of your food pairing questions.  

– Same with Same: Is the food light and delicate? Pair if with a similarly light and delicate wine. (Ex/ Baked Trout and Sancerre). Is it big and bold and smoky like BBQ and Ribs? Give it a go with a smoky South African Red like Pinotage. 

– Opposite with Opposite: As for opposites, try anything super salty with something sweet like a rich savory Stilton Blue with an off-dry German Riesling. Or on the other end – crispy yummy fried chicken pairs well with its opposite – a bright and light sparkling wine!

How to Pick Out Wine


We’ll weather the weather whatever the weather may be with wine! Think about the time of year when you choose a bottle.  

– Winter Wines always call for something dark, rich and brooding just like the hot chocolate you may be serving alongside it. Try a Petite Sirah from California or even a smooth rich Malbec from Argentina.  

– Summertime calls for anything that goes in an ice bucket. That means rosé all day, bright sparkling wines, fresh light white wines and even some icy reds like Lambrusco.  

– Fall’s transitional with the leaves changing and layers coming on and off. We recommend something in between like Oregon Pinot Noir and heavier fruity whites like Viognier from Virginia. 

– Springtime means you can have some Summertime inspo like your nicely chilled whites and rosés but you don’t have to say goodbye to your reds entirely! We recommend some fresher earthier reds like Portuguese reds from Alentejo.  

How do you navigate the wine aisle? 

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