Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When one tires of Two Buck Chuck.

One of the great things that Trader Joe's has done is in bringing down the price of wines. Of course, there's Two Buck Chuck. Charles Shaw wines are nice, perhaps not great, but for $2 a bottle, how can you go wrong? We used to tease my dad about being cheap, but in reality he is not cheap as much as he loves a bargain. He won't just always buy the cheapest junk around, but when something is of good enough quality and really low price, he is very loyal to those brands. For him, the math of it is simple. Is a $20 bottle of wine really ten times more enjoyable than a bottle of Two Buck Chuck? For him, the answer is always no.

My sister Jen knows more about wine than I do. When we got together for The Oscars over at her daughter Holly's house, I brought a bottle of her favorite cheap wine, Spain's Abrazo Del Toro (which translates to "the hug of the bull") and since it was Oscar night, I also had a bottle of Francis Ford Coppola's Shiraz, which I have praised before on this blog. Jenny, in her nice way, asked about the Coppola, "Don't you think it's a little dusty?" She was right. The Abrazo at $4 is a better buy than the Coppola at $8.

While I haven't been completely faithful to my goal of buying more local foods, I definitely think about it when looking at wines. Besides Two Buck Chuck, a lot of bargain wines I like are from Australia, and of course Abrazo is from Spain. Closer to home is the Purple Moon label, bottled in Manteca, California. (Second Spanish lesson today. Manteca means lard.) I've been trying several of their varietals, and I've enjoyed both the shiraz and the merlot. They sell here in California for $4 a bottle, and on the Matty Boy scale, they are worth every penny.

Take a bottle out for a taste test, why don'tcha?


dguzman said...

I too try to buy local when it comes to wine, although I must admit that I lovelovelove Red Bicyclette's French Rose and buy it all the time. *guilty shrug*

Padre Mickey said...

When I lived in Berkeley I used to buy Ravenswood Vinters' Choice Red Zinfindel at Costco 'cuz it was great an only $3.00 a bottle. When I was in California a couple of years ago, I wanted to buy some but it was like $9.00 per bottle! I can get Merlot from France for $3.00 a bottle here, and that's what I go for now. Panamanians make wine out of pineapples and stuff like that; it's kinda nasty.

Distributorcap said...


2 buck chuck is three buck chuck in NYC...

they have some other good wines at TJs -- like Fetzer and this south african one i like

FranIAm said...

No Trader Joe's in Smalbania! Wah!

I tend to buy cheap and not local; local here means NY State wines, some of which are ok, but not always.

FranIam rolls with that kind of value proposition. $25 versus $7.99, which is about the cheapest wine I find here in the capital.

Right now I am sipping a Chilean bargain, $7.99 and quite nice. It is Terra Andina Cabernet.

DCap is white wine man- me, I am red mostly.

Matty Boy said...

I'm red wine all the way; if it doesn't stain a beige rug, it's not really wine.

Locally, Pepperwood Grove gets under $5 when on sale, and it's pretty good. In California, TJ's has a lot of selection under $5. it used to be at other grocery stores, buy less than $5 wine was like admitting financial defeat. Gallo, Meridian, Vendage... yeech!

Jason said...

Just stumbled across this, I enjoy that Abrazo Carinena but stay away from the syrah from the same label. Haven't tried the Purple Moon but perhaps I should give it a go. Perhaps it can make my Top 10 TJ's wines of March. Here are the Top 10 from Feb. Give them a try and let me know what you think!



Jess Wundrun said...

Though we are on a "Buy American" challenge at the Wundrun home, wine is excluded. There is such a thing as terroir you know.

Did you know that Trader Joe's is owned by a pair of German brothers who also started Aldi?

Maybe you could buy foreign wine at a local mom and pop shop? Just wondering.

jolie said...

if any of you ever see a wine from the Becker vineyard in texas - IMMEDIATELY BUY AND DRINK IT!!

becker makes the most lovely wines, hands down, white and red. their voignier is world class, the cab (called Iconoclast) emphatic, and oh my, their claret and cab-syrah - fantastic fruit bombs.

depending on your source, these wines come in around the <$10 to <$20 price range.

I've done my share of dedicated wine hobbying over the years, and I'll put becker wines at the top of my list (which includes lovely spanish wines like priorats, as well as the mentioned australian, south african, and south american vintages).

last fall when we spent a week in the portland area, we visited vineyards over near Hood River. I have to say, those Oregon wines are damn good, too!