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Wine Cube & 2 Buck Chuck, you likey?

I'm interested in who is willing to admit that they drink cheap swill... admit it and tell us what it is. A friend of mine has a sister who is a well-known master sommelier (has her own tv show, several books in print, etc) who swears that Target's wine cubes are decent every day burger & pizza wines (of course she is a paid consultant to Target). The cab/shiraz blend is not heinous. There I admitted it.

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  1. Probably the same MS that was on the Target payroll for a while.

    Two Buck Chuck and T-Cubes both suck, period.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

      One person's swill is another person's house wine . . .

    2. Have not tried the Target product, and the tastings done with 2BC were when they were hot. Never found anything worth the calories.

      For "everyday" fare, I go to my "house wines." I have to admit that all are probably 5x the 2BC, which, I hear, is now 3BC. The Bronco wines might have improved over the years, but I have not felt a compunction to even try them. The first ones were bad enough, and someone would have had to pay me much more than $2 to drink them. Too much good wine - too little time.

      Sorry that I cannot contribute to your thread in a positive way. I keep hearing about wines of that "ilk," that, when brought to wine events populated by serious winos, win rave reviews, and become the "pick of the litter." To date, no one has ever been able to provide the names of these wines to me. Urban ledgend? Who knows, as I have never gotten any names.


      1. Random Thoughts:

        Andrea DOES have an excellent palate. (And a nice person, too.) And whether it's Target, Starwood, or even back to her days with Kevin Zraly at Windows on the World, she has done more than any Master Sommelier I know to (attempt to) dispell the myths, mysteries and myriad of misinformation around wine . . . to make it accessible as an everyday beverage with food.

        There is NO REASON that one HAS to spend "big bucks" to find enjoyable wines. In that, Andrea is absolutely right, and I don't know of anyone in the wine trade who disagrees.

        As I've said elsewhere, probably 50%+ of the wine I buy today falls somewhere between $8-20. Another 25% probably costs up to $30. It's really only Champagne and Porto when I find that I HAVETO SPEND the "big bucks." Well, clearly I don't have to -- but in order to find wines that I personally enjoy, I spend that much . . . But when it comes to table wines? I don't have to.

        I hope that makes sense . . .


        3 Replies
        1. re: zin1953

          In regard to the Target Cubes, she is a sell out; the stuff is miserable. Target may call it "wine", but it's wine in the sense of an "alcohol delivery system", as opposed to a pleasurable beverage. Fact is she use her MS title to pimp this plonk.

          1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

            Suffice it to say, I disagree.

            I've never tasted a Target Cube, so I cannot comment on the quality of that specific wine(s).

            That said, this is NOT a chicken-and-egg question. She was hired as a consultant to Target to specifically upgrade their wine department's selection, and one of the wines she brought IN was the cube. Thus, she didn't sell out by endorsing a wine that she thought was swill . . . she approved the concept and bought the wine.

            Indeed, although there are few wines at Target I would personally buy, I think she did a very good job for them and their clientle.

          2. re: zin1953

            Well said, Jason. I agree... wholeheartedly. I'm typically in the $8-$20 range myself. I always look for WS best buys. I occasionally will use a wine cube or 2bc to make sangria or to braise meat with.

          3. Vinny, I've never tried it, so I can't comment.

            1. The thing here is, everyone has a different taste profile they like, and more importantly a price range they like to stick with. Vinny, most likely your pallet is way beyond the $5 bottle of wine. I am in the same boat, along with a lot of you on this site (from reading your posts over the past month). But not everyone is as advanced. Most of the people that buy wine at Target wouldn't know the definition of varietal, Single Vineyard, or even know where Napa Valley is. (But that is what I will be drinking tonight with my porterhouse) Chances are they are looking for a clean crisp white wine and a round easy going red wine, which is exactly what the Wine Cube is. And when you factor in that there is 4 bottles of wine in that box for $15 or so, then it makes for a good deal for people who are at a simple level of wine enjoyment. Especially if this person most likely is buying the usual supermarket table wine brands (Sutter Home, Turning Leaf, Lindemans, etc etc). The same thing goes for beer. I would much rather buy a 6pk of a local microbrew than buy the 24 pk suitcase of your standard Bud/Miller. But obviously I am in the minority when you look at beer sales. One of the biggest problems with wine is that it is very imposing to most Americans. So by calling something "swill", you put the fear into normal wine drinkers that they are drinking bad wine. Why not just say, I tried it and did not enjoy it, or that it is not for me. I believe people should drink what they like and not worry about what traditionalist say they should like. I can do a tasting in a store and promise you that I will sell 10 times more Moscato than I will of any nice tasting Cabernet I have open, simply because the average person is looking for something easy going and affordable. There was a blind tasting on 3lt box wine done by some wine professionals here in Austin, and here are the results. http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyroba...

              7 Replies
              1. re: mac8111

                Andrea Immer (the sommelier referred to in the opening post) called the Wine Cube wine "absolutely delicious." That's promising substantially more than "clean crisp white" or "round easy going red."

                I bought the Riesling that came in first in that Austin Chronicle tasting. At $3.50 / 750ml it was a good value but I wouldn't buy it again. Tasting notes:


                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I inferred that the MS was Andrea Immer, but did not know so. Thanks for the clarification. I have also not had the Target cube-wine, so I cannot comment on this. I would feel that part of the motivation for signing on for a project like this would be for her to get good wine to the "masses," at a fair price. However that slope can become very slippery, if the wine does not live up to its billing. I guess that it is time that I give some of these a try, (wish that the volumn was not so large, as I hate to throw wine down the drain, if I do not like it) and also do a tasting of 2BC, again. Though many have alluded to the range of differences between the Bronco wines within the same "vintage," if one can call it that, because of the varying sources for the wine. One could get a good 2BC Chard, or a really bad 2BC from the same time frame. To me, this is one of the biggest problems with a wine of this type.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Thanks Robert. That does help a bit. I guess that it's off to Target to buy a tasting. If I survive (big grin inserted here), I'll report back. May take longer to get up the nerve to buy some 2BC though.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        The Pinot Grigio seems to get the most approval in tastings.

                2. re: mac8111

                  Just like everyone else, I too aways seek out a bargain. There are plenty of delicious wines under $10. I have yet to find anything (from anywhwere) in a box that is IMO palatable. I will say that too much stock is placed on the MS title, and for someone who has put in the time, effort and in many cases the dough to earn this title certainly has the right to sell out (or some would say cash in on said title). But applying a MS endorsement to something that that is IMO plonk, will indeed boost sales. I will also say that I have no axe to grind with Andrea or any of the other Masters that do as such; everyone who has paid their dues is entitled to make a good living in the wine biz.

                  1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

                    Hiring a sommelier to find good values is better than just buying the cheapest bulk plonk and slapping a house label on it.

                    Target does a good job of selling good design cheap, no reason they couldn't do the same for wine.

                3. You know, I find it unfortunate that some posts come across with an air of condescension.... particularly since many haven't even tried the wine in question. I admire someone like Andrea Immer who has a very sofisticated palate and yet can be very approachable and encouraging to those who do not. I can appreciate a grand cru and an $8 cab. I don't need to impress anyone. Although I love foie gras and other exotic foods doesn't mean I can't appreciate a good pb & j.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: lynnlato

                    I have tried the T-Cube wines (and TBC for that matter) and the they stink, period. Quite honestly, an entire throop of master sommeliers and masters of wine could endorse the cubes and attached their smiling pictures to the box...botton line, the wine would still be crap.

                    1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

                      People used to have that same disdain for the synthetic cork and the screw top and now they are becoming common place. So I'm afraid you're gonna see grand crus in a box... it's just a matter of time. Okay, so maybe not grand crus, but definitely more respectable wine from great producers. oh, and for the record, there's quite a lot of swill (or crap as you so eloquently put it) in bottles w/ real corks and sold by respected producers.

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        That some people are prejudiced against box wines doesn't make the wines any better.

                        I'm a huge fan of the bag-in-box technology since it greatly reduces oxidation, but have yet to find one here in the U.S. containing wine I'd buy a second time, box or bottle. If I could get the ones I tried in Bordeaux I'd buy them regularly.

                  2. As swill goes, I think Winking Owl Char(frrom Aldi's) at $2.59 per is pretty easy drinking stuff. The cab isn't terible either. Oakhurst Shiraz ($4.50 a bottle) when you can find it, is actually quite good

                    1. I haven't had the wine cube yet, but imho 2-buck Chuck is undrinkable. and I like a lot of inexpensive wines. Neither that nor Yellowtail will grace my table!

                      1. I think most posters have steered off subject. The questions wasn't whether you like or approve of boxed wine, but rather what cheap (or if you prefer the term "inexpensive") wine do you drink?

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: lynnlato

                          I guess it depends on what you consider cheap. Here's a list of some $10 wines I've enjoyed recently, all purchased in brooklyn, NY. Will these blow your mind? Nope, but they're definitely drinkable and go well with pizza, burgers, or just a weeknight 30-min meal.

                          2005 Bodegas Piqueras Castillo de Almansa (cherry, plums, herbs) $8
                          2005 Domaine Galus Costières de Nîmes $10 (strawberry, raspberry, spice) $10
                          2005 Domaine Pélaquié Côtes du Rhône $10 (blueberry, pepper, plum) $10
                          2006 Domaine Ampelidae Marigny-Neuf Sauvignon (citrus, lime, honey) $10

                          There's a ton of great values in Spain, the Loire valley and the Languedoc. For the record, I have never had any good wine in a box.

                          1. re: oolah

                            >> guess it depends on what you consider cheap.

                            My definition of "cheap" (applies to red wines) is a wine that did not see at least 6 months of barrel aging. I like this definition because the element of price is removed.

                          2. re: lynnlato

                            In the past year, I don't think I've tasted a wine I liked that cost much less than $8 / 750ml. That's not cheap compared with Charles Shaw or the Target cube (which last I heard was about $4 / 750ml).

                            Excluding some I tried in Bordeaux that are not yet available here, I have yet to find a bag-in-box wine that I liked enough to buy twice.

                            1. re: lynnlato

                              All are under $15, some under $10 . . . I included vintages only where they made a difference in terms of price (subsequent vintages being more expensive).

                              Huges de Beaulieu Picpoul de Pinet $8.99
                              Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur lie $14
                              Domaine de l'Ecu, Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur lie $14

                              Château d'Oupia Minervois "Tradition" $13
                              Château d'Oupia Les Heretiques $10.50
                              Château Segeries Cotes-du-Rhone $9.99
                              Château Segeries Lirac $12.99
                              Manoir de Carra Beaujolais-Villages $13.99
                              2000 Mas Gabinelle $7.99
                              1999 Periquita Reserva Classico $9.99

                              . . . and many, many more.

                              1. re: zin1953

                                Those prices are for 750ml bottles, right?

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Right . . . these are mostly MSRP; you may be able to find them for less. The last two reds were purchased at Vintage Berkeley, and were being closed out due to a change in importer (in the first case), and as excess inventory (in the second case).


                              2. re: lynnlato

                                There's plenty of great wine available for around $10. Some I've had recently (mostly Spanish and Rhone):

                                2005 Castano Yecla Monatrell $8.50
                                2005 Vinos Sin Ley Montsant $8.50
                                2004 Domain Lafage Cotes Catalanes Los Planos $9.50
                                2005 Domaine de la Janasse Principaute d'Orange (rose) $10
                                2003 Bodegas Luan Equis Vinas Viejas $10
                                2006 Artazuri Navarra (rose) $10
                                2005 Andezon Cotes du Rhone $12
                                2003, 2004 Domaine la Garrigue Cote du Rhone Cuvee Romaine $12
                                2003 Capcanes Montsant Mas Donis $12
                                2003 Burklin-Wolf Pzalf Reisling $12

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    On WineSearcher it ranges from $10-15. Don't remember it ever being much less anwhere here in Miami.

                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                      It was $6 when I first bought it no more than 10 years ago and then $8 for quite a while.

                                      But there was no Monsant DO at that time.

                              3. I just finished my last bottle of Two Buck Chuck from a case I bought when TJ's opened in Charlotte. I only got the Merlot. I will definitely get another case of it next time I'm there. It tastes great but doesn't seem to have much alcohol in it. My friends and I bring Target's cube wine to our swim club where no glass is allowed. Sue me.

                                3 Replies
                                  1. Good but inexpensive wines are quite possible: the increase in area planted to wine grapes in approriate areas combined with good wine making methods and technologies has to some degree outpaced demand.

                                    In the early 70s, airline pilots and others with high disposbale incomes invested in California vinyards. For a few years, oversupply led to very decent quality jug wines (e.g., Carlo Rossi).

                                    And remember when there was a "jet set" brought about by the high cost of flying. Today everyone flies, there is no jet set, and flights are faster, safer, and go to more places. Good things can get less expensive, although in doing so they can loose their eliteness.

                                    Boxed wines from France and Oz are, to me, quitet drinkable. Although I haven't tried 2BC, I would guess that it could be OK.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      I've had boxed in from France that were much, much better than Charles Shaw (and significantly more expensive).

                                      But unfortunately they're not for sale in California.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        We are currently enjoying a box from France and not a cheap box either- its a John David vin de pays that was touted by the local really good wine store. It doesn't qualify as Cote De Rhone but is in that genre. I think we're going to have to pick up another one this weekend.

                                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        I've had several Australian cask wines that ranged from entirely drinkable to really quite nice, purchased at various stores in New England. Greatest wines I'll ever have in my life? Not by a long shot, but at the very least as good or better than the average $10-15 bottle, for up to a third of the price. And given that I often don't care to drink more than a glass of wine at a time, they're worth it to me on that level alone.

                                      3. tried a new cheapie last night; Crane Lake Sauv. Blanc. $3.99 per and pleasant to drink, if a little sweet for a sauv blanc. fine with cheese as an afternoon sipper.

                                        1. Just had 2BC Cab last night at my parents' house. When left to his own devices, my dad will always go for 2BC. Was it heinous? No. Was it great? No. I believe it is priced appropriately for what it is. This isn't the first time I've tried it, and I still don't like it. So sue me. (Just kidding!) I know that there are people out there who think 2BC is the best thing since sliced bread, but I'm not one of them. I was at Target this morning on a toothpaste/laundry detergent run when I remembered this thread. Took a quick look at the wine aisle. Lots of wines on clearance. I found a Penfolds 2004 Koonunga Hill Shiraz for $6.06 - perfect for Dad's miserly taste and still pleasing for a weeknight quaff. Sure its no Grange ;) and I'm not going to give up my favorite wine shop (K&L) to shop for wines exclusively at Target, but I'll take a bargain wherever I can find it!

                                          1. In the spirit of the post I will admit, when I am at my parent's house I enjoy drinking the Delicious Red. Its unpretentious, sweet, and more like a fruit drink than wine, but its home and it makes me happy.

                                            At my house I visit my local wine store and pick up the wine I stock at home. I also enjoy my local wine bar, where I peruse their well developed lists.

                                            Now when I go out with my parents they let me pick the wine and a good time is had by all. :)

                                            1. Oh and Vino Verde from Portugal is a great cheap wine. I've convinced friends who spent time in France and they think its fun!

                                              The Casal Garcia is by far my favorite. A bottle is about 7 to 8 dollars.

                                              1. My favorite wines under $10 are from Stormhoek - crisp, fruit, and I was on the periphery of their US launch, having held the first tastings of the label in PA - before our LCB monopoly even carried it - so I'm a bit biased. When I'm out of the country I also tend to stock up on sub $10 wines from wherever I'm at == wines that would be in the $18-$35 range landed.

                                                I'll try most anything once if I see even one positive review. And I have tried Black Box, Killer Juice, Fish Eye and Trove, which are the only "non-jug wine" boxes that's available near me. Generally speaking I've found the Reislings and Pinot Grigios more palatable than any of the Chards or any reds. I think the PGs are fine on their own. We eat a lot of Chinese/Thai so the Reisling box comes in handy.

                                                I'll note that while most reds were marginally drinkable, the Black Box cab I've had was better than just about any nationally-advertised California cabernet in the $8-$10 range (think Woodbridge, Corbett Canyon, Forest Glen, etc.) So if any of those are normally in your repetoire (not in mine, but I've been to plenty of parties where that's all that wa's offered), you could certainly save a few bucks buying the Black Box cab.

                                                1. I admit it - I drink cheap swill! Except it doesn't have to be swill with a little know-how. It's getting better, but this country is still under a heavy apparatus of wine snobbery and hasn't quite gotten the everyday wine-for-the-people they have in Europe.

                                                  And boxed wines are big over there. You know cheaper packaging for everyday wines. Ain't no shame in it.

                                                  I tried all the Tar-jhay Wine Cubes. I tried the reds, not the whites. Unfortunately, they were all pretty awful. I like Andrea Immer, her laid-back persona etc, but she has allowed herself to be associated with some pretty bad stuff. If she says these WineCube wines are "delicious" she is either (1) lying, (2) she doesn't have the master "palate" everybody says she does, or (3) she is smoking a bit of crack to go along with her glass of wine.

                                                  The only drinkable red wine-in-a-box that I have found so far is Black Box California Paso Robles Cab. It is your standard California Cab but at least it gives you a bit of berry fruit and tastiness.

                                                  Hopefully we will get more decent everyday wines-in-a-box in this country.

                                                  In bottles, there are many for the budget-conscious. It helps alot if you've got a good, un-snotty wine shop nearby. I have a local shop where the guy knows I am looking for the bargains and he helps me find them. Try Spanish tempranillos and blends, Italian reds from unglamorous parts of the boot, and basically anything that isn't the trendy wine of the moment. You can get decent bottles between 5 and 10 that are quite good.

                                                  1. I drink wine every day with lunch and with dinner. If cheap wine is $10-$15 a bottle then the $20-$30/day wine bill would make it so I never could buy a bottle of scotch. When I fix something special I pick a really good wine, for most meals I drink Rain Dance Shiraz or one of a variety of whites out of a box. The best box wine I get is a Rhone Villages that my winemonger occasionally has for $27 a box.

                                                    1. I just found this post as I was searching for reviews on the Target wine cubes. I had 'lost my mind' in Target and bought a couple to try and then was second-guessing myself. I bought them to take over to a casual event (mom's group pajama/movie party) at a friend's house. I normally drink wines in the $10-$13 range and try to find good deals by buying on sale, at wine shops, and Costco. I live in Arizona where we are in the 100s lately and been making a lot of wine spritzers lately and even though I can afford it, I feel like its a waste even to water down a $10 bottle of wine. So, the Target cubes caught my eye. Plus, I had my 2.5 yr old daughter w/me and the thought of stopping at AJ's or a wine shop in addition to the errands we needed to run at Target seemed oppresive.

                                                      ANYWAY, so here is my experience...

                                                      Target Pinot Grigio - Surprisingly good for the price. Figured it would be undrinkable without making it into a spritzer, but it actually is 'not bad'. By that, I mean there is nothing offensive about drinking it on its own. But, it is boring. Nothing interesting, but not offensive like a lot of $6 and less bottles I find in the store. Perfect wine for a spritzer or wine cooler or to put on ice. Its not gonna ruin the flavor of your mixed drink, but you won't feel guilty about watering it down either. ;->

                                                      Target Red Sangria - Too sweet and spicy on its own. But, once again, w/a good splash of club soda, this is a really nice, casual, easy drinking beverage. I can't bring myself to call it 'wine' because technically its not wine. But, wine snobs aside, this is a fun drink.

                                                      BTW, I always told people I loved the screwcap, but drew the line at boxed wines. Well, I'm willing to admit that I'll go back on that statement now. I may even buy the big cube to keep in my fridge just for spritzers. Of course, if you live in a cooler climate, maybe you are not seeking out something for spritzers the way I am here. I love my wine, but being so hot, I feel I can't really enjoy a beverage in the Summer unless it is on ice and has some water in it. Wine on its own can be so dehydrating. ;->

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: adagray

                                                        Ah, the wine cube thread - the zombie walks amongst us, yet again.

                                                        I used to say the same thing about "screw cap wines," but then came Stelvin and the Plumpjack Reserve experiment. Instead of having to make a "corked wine return trip" about once a month, it's now about once per quarter.

                                                        I wonder if you didn't ressurect this thread just to make me feel bad for NOT having done the "wine cube tasting," as I promised... [Grin]


                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                          Regarding screw-tops, is there anything more pittiful than having a corked bottle of last-year's table wine? Cork ... it's not like anyone was going to age those bottles.

                                                          To inspire you to try a tasting of box wines: as of a week ago until the end of summer, I'll have a nice if inconsequential côtes-de-Provence rosé on tap thanks to the 3L boxes from Bilette. I had a perfectly fine Muscadet recently from a box, as well as a côtes-du-Rhone and a petit Bourgogne. Brands aren't popping to mind, alas.

                                                          These aren't wines I serve to guests, but they're perfectly fine table wines, perfect for cooking, and they certainly do in a pinch, if I find thirsty folks at my place unplanned. Which is pretty much what the bottle situation would have been, except that with bottles I might have run out of wine. And no one wants to be asked "Hey where the party at? The girls is on the way, where the Brunello at?" (to uh paraphrase)

                                                          Right, so I don't actually risk running out of wine, but no one wants to open a nice bottle for table-wine duty.

                                                      2. Alright, I admit that I drink the Three Buck Chuck and I love it. I like a glass of wine with dinner and it fits my price range. My friends don't drink wine like I do, so I'll serve it to them at parties too. I haven't tried the wine cubes at Target yet, but I do like their carmenere blends. When I can afford better wine, I'll buy it, but for every day drinking and cooking Three Buck Chuck is where it's at.