Dark Waves Red Blend 2016

The Dark Waves Red Blend 2016 is a $5.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive produced for them by the Central Coast Wine Warehouse from grapes farmed in the Central Coast AVA of California. The Central Coast Wine Warehouse has been making custom wine for Trader Joe’s for years, they are part of a family owned group of wine related businesses that includes vineyards (some of the best properties in the Central Coast), wineries, custom crush facilities, custom labels, and some very well-known wine labels use their facilities to produce their wines. As a custom Trader Joe’s label they do not provide information concerning the wine, they don’t even list the grapes that went into the blend, so there is not much to talk about. Instead let’s discuss the price, $5.99. A lot of people will say that they don’t drink cheap wine or a 6 buck wine can’t possible be any good, but is a Trader Joe’s $5.99 wine simply a 6 buck wine? First a winery receives around a 1/3 to 1/2 of what a wine sells for at your local wine shop, so they might get $3.33 for a wine that sells retail for $10. When Trader Joe’s, Costco, etc., come to a custom winery, they pay in cash, upfront, it might take a winery with a traditional retail wine, 9 or 10 months to receive complete payment for the wine. Paying up front will get a pretty good cash discount. Trader Joe’s and the like do not advertise their wines, which completes eliminates advertising costs which can be significant in retail wines. Trader Joe’s does not need or use the full services of a regional or local distributor, just transportation, warehousing and delivery. If you want to know what the distributions costs in your area are just compare the cost of 2 Buck Chuck in California ($2.49) with the price at your neighborhood store, the difference is the distribution cost. Plus the calculation to determine profit for a bottle of wine in a store that also sells groceries or other items is different that a store that only sells adult beverages, the wine can bring customers into the store who then purchase other items. A wine that sells at TJ’s for $5.99 probably uses the same grapes and production techniques and standards as a retail wine that sells in the $10 to $12 range. The difference is the wine at the retail wine shop is more transparent concerning who made it and how it was made (some producers are better at this than others), while Trader Joe’s, Costco, or Aldi private brands are more of a leap of faith. At Trader Joe’s the low price and the no questions asked return policy go along way about giving customers comfort with their purchase. The alcohol content for the Dark Waves is 13.9%.

The color is a barely see-thru black cherry red. The nose is a mix of ripe dark and red berries, chocolate, vanilla, and just of hint of spice, overall it’s rich, ripe, and smooth. This is a fruit-forward, smooth wine with a bit of a spice and a rough and ready edge on the mid-palate. It tastes of ripe raspberry, blueberry, black pepper, chocolate powder, and plum. The mid-palate offers cherry mixed with exotic spice and tart cranberry. The tannins a soft and the acidity allows this to be a sipping wine, though it will do well with the usual, burgers, pizza, and fajitas. The finish is mild but lingers.

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The Dark Waves Red Blend 2016 is a very California Red blend, smooth, rich and full-flavored. I wouldn’t classify it as delicious, but it is a pleasing wine. It isn’t complex or full of depth, but it is very easy to drink. Easy to drink is faint praise for a $100 wine, but there is nothing at all wrong with being easy to drink for wines in this price range. This is an inexpensive California Red blend that sips well and costs little.

About the Author
Don’t tell anyone, but there is absolutely no correlation between the cost of wine and the quality of wine.

5 comments on “Dark Waves Red Blend 2016

  1. Diane Mockbee says:

    I tried Dark Waves and fell in love with it@ vert smooth and great taste with a phenomenal price@ i recommended it to my cashier at TJ’s!

  2. linda j kessler says:

    I purchased this wine a few months ago and was pleased with the flavor and the price. However, this week I purchased six bottles and for some reason the taste was not the same or as pleasant as the bottles I bought the first time. I was somewhat disappointed, but not concerned due to the price was so inexpensive It makes me wonder with inexpensive wines, if the grapes used in a specific wine brand are not always in the same grape category.

  3. Domaine Dave says:

    Good question. It could be how the wine was handled, heat is the wine’s enemy, and something could have happens in transit. Or maybe they needed more wine to fulfill their order, and they had to look elsewhere to get the right quantity. With the CWF website, I do not drink the same wine twice in a vintage. I am always off to the next one. So I can not speak to vintage variations, but you are right. With the price they are charging, minor inconsistencies go with the territory.

  4. Rondolyn baker says:

    My first time and the last time had some was at my dad’s celebration of life in 2021. Since then I’ve moved to North Dakota and they do not have a trader Joe’s and I’ve had no luck finding it here. Is there any way of having an order sent out here to my City Minot ND? I’m also affiliated with a local hotel “The Hotel Revel” and I’m sure the owner would love to keep some in the bar!

  5. Domaine Dave says:


    It has been a few years since this wine has been available and it looks like it was only sold at Trader Joe’s. It may return this spring, but I have my doubts.

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