Americana: "Two-Buck-Chuck"

I’ve been speaking English for some 15 years now, but I still learn new (American)idioms and expressions every day. Like Two-Buck-Chuck. It all started with a simple tweet about spotting some $2.99 Cabernet Sauvignon at my local Whole Foods last week. The overwhelming response: it was the Texas-based chain’s answer to Trader Joe’s Two-Bucks-Chuck. A few even said it was decent. I was officially intrigued! I mean, who was this Chuck? I had to do a little a little research…
As it turns out, Chuck is a certain “Charles Shaw” who makes some very cheap wine out of surplus California production. Said wine is then bought up in bulk, bottled under the Charles Shaw label and sold exclusively at Trader Joe’s. In California, it retails for $1.99 hence the nickname Two-Buck-Chuck Whole Foods’ version is called “Three Wishes” and retails for $2.99 (the same price as a bottle of Charles Shaw in DC.) Three Wishes also uses non-vintage California surplus wine and produces a cheap Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Can you really get a drinkable Cabernet Sauvignon for that price? I just had to find out 😉
To help me judge the wine, I assembled a panel of willing tasters, comprised of my husband, mother, my friend François and fellow bloggers Mango Tomato, Lindelle, and Food Newsie. And because just tasting a $2.99 bottle of CabSav didn’t seem fun enough, I selected 3 more bottles of California Cabernet, each in a different price range, and staged a little blind tasting. How would the value wine fared compared with the others? Would François and I’s French reputation come out unharmed from the tasting? Would we be able to tell a cheap wine apart from a 92 Wine Enthusiast rated one? Would our distinguished panel? Stay tuned to find out 😉

2 thoughts on “Americana: "Two-Buck-Chuck"

  1. I once did a blind tasting that involved 2-buck-chuck cab, a Robert Mondavi Oakville Cab ($40), and a Lewis Cab ($80). The tasters were mostly non-wine people. Of the 8 tasters, every single one identified the 2-buck-chuck as the cheap wine. It's certainly drinkable, but it really is not much more than alcoholic fruit juice with oak chips… Certainly not 20 times worse than Mondavi or 40 times worse than Lewis (based on the price), but wine QPR is never linear. I will admit I used to drink it when I was just getting into wine. But at this point, I don't think I would recommend it to anyone. I think – for every day, you stick to $15 price range for reasonable quality wines, and you'll be ok.


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