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Gillman
03-07-2007, 11:38
Some time ago I read about a wine called Two Buck Chuck and that it was something of a "phenomenon". The name of course is funny and I am wondering if anybody knows anything about this wine. What is the background, is it still available and - is it any good?

(Potential sub-thread: what is the bourbon equivalent?).

Gary

Joeluka
03-07-2007, 11:43
It's the wine sold at Trader Joe's. I've never had it though.

jeff
03-07-2007, 12:54
Two-Buck Chuck is the slang name for a Trader Joe's brand called "Charles Shaw." It is a Bronco wine, which means it is made from bulk juice bought on the secondary market. Depending on the year, this can be an acceptable wine, but lately it hasn't been to my liking at all. It gets its name from its $1.99 price per bottle in California, though it's about $3.99 at the Trader Joe's in Cincinnati, and over-priced at that IMHO.

Know one knows exactly where the juice is sourced from, and it changes all the time. Very similar to the bottler-brand bourbons we have been discussing lately.

Gillman
03-07-2007, 13:44
Thanks guys, I didn't know the name was a slang term, I thought it was on the label!

Gary

jburlowski
03-07-2007, 16:09
The nickname is appropriate... you get exactly what you pay for.

TNbourbon
03-07-2007, 16:32
I tasted the Charles Shaw Cabernet once, imported by a newcomer to our area (nearest Trader Joe's are in St. Louis or Cincinnati). I found it quite similar to a Lodi label -- Leaping Horse -- which we sell in the store for 2/$10. It was, I thought, a very good value for its price -- not a $20-a-bottle taste, but not anywhere near $20 a bottle, either.

bluesbassdad
03-07-2007, 22:12
At its inception this wine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_buck_chuck)benefitted from various urban legends that allegedly explained its high enjoyment-to-price ratio.

The most popular was that it was a special crush on behalf of an airline that went out of business before the bottling began.

I think the appeal of benefitting from others' misfortune added to some buyers' enjoyment of what was then a very drinkable, if not distinguished, wine.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

RoyalWater
03-08-2007, 21:05
Two Buck Chuck could be thought of as the level above Boone's Farm, Wild Irish Rose, and Mad Dog 20/20, perhaps to some palates better even than Paul Masson, Inglenook, and Almaden but definitely a bottom shelf bottle.

smokinjoe
03-09-2007, 05:42
Trader Joe's has made it's way to Atlanta, and the 2-Buck Chuck frenzy is in full swing. I've tried the syrah, and it tastes...like....wine. But, I am not a wine expert, so I can't say where on the quality continuum it falls.
It is selling between $2.30 and $2.50 per bottle. Interestingly enough, there are a few package stores that are selling it cheaper than Trader Joe's. The liquor laws in Georgia do not allow exclusives on products, therefore any licensed establishment can carry it. Some Kroger and Publix supermarkets are also carrying it. My local package store is selling it at or below cost (he claims), just to defend his bottom shelf market.

Regardless of the wine, the store is pretty cool.

JOE

Virus_Of_Life
03-10-2007, 23:25
Very ironic as I was just discussing this exact wine while helping to move an ex-coworker with said ex-coworker's sister-in-law. I think it essentially has most to do with the general state of alcohol consumption in this country in that most people wouldn't know the good shit if it beat them over the head!

When I used to shop at Trader Joe's regularly I'd always laugh at the people getting into there Lexus/benz/BMW SUV with a case or several bottles of this cheap wine. I did try it myself on a couple of occasions and found it drinkable, not good by any means, but drinkable. Now I am no wine cono. but know what tastes good to me and honestly found that for just a couple of dollars more I could get something on sale at any given day from the regular grocery that would taste much better. So what I came to surmise in my own mind was that either these affluent people pawn this off on guests, are too cheap to spend money on decent booze, or just plain and simple don't know any better; the last of which is pretty hard to believe...

CrispyCritter
03-12-2007, 06:58
So what I came to surmise in my own mind was that either these affluent people pawn this off on guests, are too cheap to spend money on decent booze, or just plain and simple don't know any better; the last of which is pretty hard to believe...

Or, they spent so much money on the SUV and McMansion that they can't afford to buy the good stuff.

MGades
05-25-2007, 08:40
I tried their Cabernet and their Merlot and I'd have to say it's the lowest quality I've ever had. I few sips of each and I tossed the rest.

Part of the "drinkability" aspect comes from the fact that the wines are not entirely dry. High residual sugar hides some (but by no means all) of the many flaws in the wine.

Maybe my reaction would not be as strong if I hadn't had excellent wines and I didn't know better.

mythrenegade
05-31-2007, 09:37
Heh.

Well, this stuff is better than this thread would have you believe, but it isn't what anyone would call good wine. The biggest problem is the inconsistency which is inherent to the very nature of the product.

I bought five bottles of the 2001 way back in the day. I gave one away and drank one immediately and found it very thin with no body. It had all the signs of a young wine that had not been barrel aged properly. With a group of people we tried it side by side with "Black Mountain" which is $4.99 per bottle and _well_ worth the extra expense.

Then I aged the others on a whim. About 18 months later I opened one of the two remaining bottles and was stunned. It was very good. I poured it for my wife and didn't tell her what it was and she approved. She was stunned when I showed her the bottle.

About six months later I opened the last bottle and it went straight down the sink, as it was beyond bad. It was sweet like Kool-Aid with a bad bite.

So I would say that I definitely got my money's worth. I paid $8 for the bottles I kept, and the best bottle, the 18 month aged one, was easily equivalent to a $10 bottle of wine.

Would I do it again? No. The 2001 vintage was the only one I've tried. I have had it occasionally because it gets poured at low end galleries, weddings, and other places where wine is expected but budgets are low. Generally it is acceptable for occasions like that.

Should you buy some? Well, if you need wine for cooking it's fine. If you have to provide a lot of wine for a lot of people and don't have a lot of money, it's your best bet. Some of the bottles may actually be decent. If you want wine for home and you aren't much of a wine guy, hey, you're only venturing $2 to see if you are willing to drink it...

But don't be afraid of it. It's not like Jim Beam White or something. It's a drinkable product...

Joel

Pappy's Friend
05-31-2007, 18:48
Being in North California, there are so many good wines for reasonable prices. While Trader Joe's is one of my favorite stores, I stay away from the Two Buck Chuck. I agree with what the skeptics have said - the inconsistency is not good. When I buy wine, I don't want to feel like I'm buying a lottery ticket! Life's too short to drink bad beer, wine or bourbon!!!

Pastor Bourbon
06-18-2007, 04:34
Being in North California, there are so many good wines for reasonable prices. While Trader Joe's is one of my favorite stores, I stay away from the Two Buck Chuck. I agree with what the skeptics have said - the inconsistency is not good. When I buy wine, I don't want to feel like I'm buying a lottery ticket! Life's too short to drink bad beer, wine or bourbon!!!

Couldn't agree more. That extends to coffee and tea as well! :grin:

Buying less wine that is of consistent quality is the better option in my books. If you can get to a winery that offers 'skins' these can be a good option. If the funds don't stretch far the unwooded wines and lighter style 'drink now' wines are a good way to get some degree of quality without spending a fotune too.

Ideally live near a wine region and visit the local wineries and watch for 'skins' and specials.:grin:

Rughi
06-20-2007, 07:18
Ideally live near a wine region and visit the local wineries and watch for 'skins' and specials.:grin:

I'm not sure what you mean by the term "skins."

Dictionary.com has a definition that describes what I know as a bota bag:
"8. a container made of animal skin, used for holding liquids, esp. wine."
but I suspect that isn't exactly what you meant.

Could it be an Australian term?

Roger

Edward_call_me_Ed
06-22-2007, 20:15
Maybe my reaction would not be as strong if I hadn't had excellent wines and I didn't know better.

I have never had Two Buck Chuck, but if I see it I will buy it just to try it.

A Behavior Analyst, Stephen Ray Flora I think it was, wrote about his experience with beer and wine.

When he was young he drank beer on the weekend with his wife, they drank the cheap stuff and enjoyed it very much. Later, they moved to the Northwest and got into the great micro brews available there. They became quite knowledgeable beer snobs. They could no longer enjoy the cheap stuff, they couldn't even drink it. He goes on to say he doesn't think he really gets more pleasure from the expensive micro brews he drinks now than he he did from the cheap beer once drank.

I am not sure I agree with him 100% on this point, there is the pleasure that knowledge brings. I enjoy thinking about, talking about, and writing about bourbon whether I happen to be drinking it at the moment. Someone who buys whatever is cheapest doesn't share in this pleasure. But he was speaking about actually drinking beer not these other aspects.

He goes on to say that he is being careful not to do the same thing with wine, sticking firmly to the middle shelf wines.

I knew a guy that had let his appreciation of good wine get the better of him. Every month he would go and buy four bottles of 50$ wine. 200$ was his budget for wine and he could no longer bear to drink anything cheaper.

We bourbon enthusiasts are really lucky that fine bourbon is so affordable.

Ed

mythrenegade
06-24-2007, 11:30
I have never had Two Buck Chuck, but if I see it I will buy it just to try it.

A Behavior Analyst, Stephen Ray Flora I think it was, wrote about his experience with beer and wine.

When he was young he drank beer on the weekend with his wife, they drank the cheap stuff and enjoyed it very much. Later, they moved to the Northwest and got into the great micro brews available there. They became quite knowledgeable beer snobs. They could no longer enjoy the cheap stuff, they couldn't even drink it. He goes on to say he doesn't think he really gets more pleasure from the expensive micro brews he drinks now than he he did from the cheap beer once drank.

I am not sure I agree with him 100% on this point, there is the pleasure that knowledge brings. I enjoy thinking about, talking about, and writing about bourbon whether I happen to be drinking it at the moment. Someone who buys whatever is cheapest doesn't share in this pleasure. But he was speaking about actually drinking beer not these other aspects.

He goes on to say that he is being careful not to do the same thing with wine, sticking firmly to the middle shelf wines.

I knew a guy that had let his appreciation of good wine get the better of him. Every month he would go and buy four bottles of 50$ wine. 200$ was his budget for wine and he could no longer bear to drink anything cheaper.

We bourbon enthusiasts are really lucky that fine bourbon is so affordable.

Ed

I agree with you. I think the knowledge increases the appreciation of the product. Your friend the wine drinker is wasting a lot of money. Bottles of wine in the $50-$200 range are generally meant to be aged quite a while before drinking. If he is buying Opus One and drinking it in the same month, he would be _far_ better off buying Gallo of Sonoma and drinking that. IF he is drinking those expensive wines soon, his appreciation and "snobbery" has more to do with the price tag than the flavor.

You are right, we are very fortunate bourbon is cheap. Unfortunately the prices seem to be rising.

Joel

Bob O.
06-28-2007, 10:12
This morning on the news I saw that Charles Shaw's 2005 Chardonnay received a double gold medal at some wine competition or fair in California.

jeff
06-28-2007, 16:44
This morning on the news I saw that Charles Shaw's 2005 Chardonnay received a double gold medal at some wine competition or fair in California.

No doubt a sign of the glut of good juice on the market right now. Thanks for the info, I'll pick up a bottle on my next visit.

mythrenegade
06-30-2007, 12:02
This morning on the news I saw that Charles Shaw's 2005 Chardonnay received a double gold medal at some wine competition or fair in California.

It's _very_ important to understand that wine competitions are broken down by price point. So It's possible that TBC won a "best chardonnay under $3" category or something of that sort. Also, due to the incredible variance in the product it's possible that the bottle you buy could be better, or worse, than the case that won...

Props to them for winning, but don't rush out and buy it because you think that it is suddenly the best Chardonnay in California...

Joel

MGades
09-14-2007, 01:12
I have never had Two Buck Chuck, but if I see it I will buy it just to try it.

A Behavior Analyst, Stephen Ray Flora I think it was, wrote about his experience with beer and wine.

When he was young he drank beer on the weekend with his wife, they drank the cheap stuff and enjoyed it very much. Later, they moved to the Northwest and got into the great micro brews available there. They became quite knowledgeable beer snobs. They could no longer enjoy the cheap stuff, they couldn't even drink it. He goes on to say he doesn't think he really gets more pleasure from the expensive micro brews he drinks now than he he did from the cheap beer once drank.
-----------------------------------

I agree with this point. Much of one's opinion of a product is determined by the context from which one tries it. That is why I included in my review the fact that I have tasted some of the best of the best wines.

But as far as wine goes, I am of the view that it must pass a certain level to be even drinkable. This 2-buck chuck did not pass that line.

Neither did another Trader Joe's wine called "Uniquato 2005 dry red wine from the thrace region" this too was undrinkable to me.

I'm considering obtaining some acetobacter to try making a passable red wine vinegar from undrinkable bottles such as these.

craigthom
09-22-2007, 07:41
Do they buy bulk grape juice to make the Charles Shaw, or is it bulk finished wine?

Some friends of mine in the bay area were big fans of the first round of two buck chuck but couldn't stand the next batch or any subsequent one. Their theory is that the first set was made during a glut. Praise and subsequent demand meant they needed to buy a lot more, and the good stuff was gone. It was a short-term deal, gone by the time people had heard of "two buck chuck".

There's no Trader Joe's here. The closest is in Cincinatti, and, if I'm going to go grocery shopping over there, I'm going to Jungle Jim's.

mythrenegade
09-22-2007, 11:26
Do they buy bulk grape juice to make the Charles Shaw, or is it bulk finished wine?

Some friends of mine in the bay area were big fans of the first round of two buck chuck but couldn't stand the next batch or any subsequent one. Their theory is that the first set was made during a glut. Praise and subsequent demand meant they needed to buy a lot more, and the good stuff was gone. It was a short-term deal, gone by the time people had heard of "two buck chuck".

There's no Trader Joe's here. The closest is in Cincinatti, and, if I'm going to go grocery shopping over there, I'm going to Jungle Jim's.

Charles Shaw, also known as "'two buck chuck" is a way for the wine industry to not take a total loss on unused grape. The profit on a case of Charles Shaw is about $1 to the producers. That's $1 total for twelve bottles of wine. But it's better than simply destroying the grape.

As such, you may be getting stag's leap region napa valley cabernet, or you might be getting stuff that gallo rejected as too low of quality to use in wild vines, or you're getting a blend of both. The whole Charles Shaw brand is a way for the industry to move unused grape, so the quality is going to vary wildly from case to case. It's never going to be a world beater, but the one bottle of 2001 that I shared about earlier in this thread was stunning for something that was $2. That was probably from a batch of high quality grape. The stuff your friends first tried was them hitting the jackpot in the two buck chuck lottery :-)

Joel

MGades
05-13-2008, 01:49
As a follow-up, I'd suggest the "Barefoot" line of wines. For those looking for the lowest-price decent wine, their Cabernet Sauvignon is pretty good, and definitely a big step above the 2-buck chucks I've tried.