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Two Buck Chuck? No Thanks


Ick ick ick.

I only bought 2BC (here it's 3BC) once or twice and wasn't too happy with the taste. I guess wine should cost at least $4 :)

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  1. A. I have never had the stuff
    B. there is no evidence cited in the article
    C. Since when is adding sugar and/or other ingredients new to the making of cheap wine?

    39 Replies
    1. re: gourmanda

      I'm not a wine drinker...but I routinely buy the 3-Buck Chuck wines by the case for my friends up in St. Lucie County...and they love it...and they're pretty knowledgeable wine enthusiasts....

      Spoke with the manager at the Trader Joe's in Kendall....and he says they move 20 pallets of the stuff a week....and that's a semi load...so that speaks for itself....

      Potato / Po-tahh-to....Tomato / To-mahh-to....

      Ft. Pierce, FL

      1. re: LargeLife

        The fact that a store sells a semi worth of it a week really just means that it's popular and people like it. It doesn't mean that it's good.

        1. re: virtualguthrie

          Seems to be a lot of confusion between those two things among a lot of people.

          1. re: virtualguthrie

            I don't think anybody spending $2 on a bottle of wine thinks they are drinking something on par with Stag's Leap or Ferrari Carano.

            Drinkable? Maybe, I can't say. Good? No.

            1. re: jpc8015

              have you ever tried it?

              Most of the CS I've tried has been pretty respectable.

              No Baby Jesus wearing velvet slippers, but more than decent for an every day wine.

              1. re: sunshine842

                I know that I have had it in the past, I just don't have a good recall of it. I'm sure that it is a decent mid-week drinking wine. I can appreciate that.

                I just don't think anybody is going to confuse it with a Berringer Knight's Valley Cabernet anytime soon.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    I understand that but you have all kinds of yahoos who try to draw that level of comparison. Notably, the author of the HP piece who decries Charles Shaw for their practices when virtually every wine producer in that and every price point on up to Clos du Val use very similar practices.

                    1. re: jpc8015

                      c'mon -- you're going to be pretty hard-put to find anybody who has any sense of logic at all who would put a $3 non-vintage blend (grapes and producers) up against a $25-30 vintage of a single producer and possibly single varietal.

                      We've already established that the writer has exhibited such a severe case of cranio-anal inversion that he'll need a glass insert in his navel to ever see the light of day.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        Head on over to the wine boards and you will see plenty of douche bags who will assert to never drinking Charles Shaw because it isn't on par with Château Mouton Rothschild.

                        1. re: jpc8015

                          We are no longer big wine drinkers but we do have a well-stocked wine fridge and overflow in a cabinet (for guests). Our wine usage is pretty much limited to cooking and the Shaw wines fit the bill well. I'd rather use a few $4 bottles of wine to steam artichokes than $14 bottles.

                          On the other hand, my sister-in-law, who just wants a glass in her hand with something red and alcoholic has no problem drinking Shaw.

                          1. re: jpc8015

                            I read the wine board (and contribute) with a fair amount of frequency.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              So you know what I am talking about.

                              1. re: jpc8015

                                I just don't read them once they get too wrapped around the gears for my taste.

                                Not too many d-bags, just a lot who spend a lot more time thinking about wine that I do. It's all good.

                  2. re: sunshine842

                    I think it's velvet trousers, but that *is* one of my all-time favorite wines! Thanks for bringing a smile to my face on this otherwise typical Monday . . .

                    1. re: zin1953

                      I've only ever heard it as slippers...but same concept, I think!

                  3. re: jpc8015

                    to many folks andythng with alcohol in it that doesn't make you sick is "good."

                  4. re: virtualguthrie

                    If the masses like it than it is good enough....for a couple bucks. Try not to overthink this product.

                    1. re: virtualguthrie

                      The "best" wine in the world is the wine that tastes best . . . TO YOU!

                      1. re: zin1953


                        We used to attend the Salon de Vignerons Independents twice a year in Paris with dear friends. It became a running joke -- if it was sweet, they'd like it -- if it was big and red, we'd like it -- and the truly remarkable wines everybody liked!

                        1. re: zin1953

                          I disagree. There is always a better wine out there and education like any other field is critical to get people over the hump. No one wants to stay in grade school their whole life. The industry needs to educate and graduate people into better wine that does not necessarily cost much more. Columbia Crest Two Vines is a superior product and a few more dollars.

                          1. re: wineglas1

                            A few more dollars could be 300% of what people are paying for Charles Shaw. That is a considerable increase.

                            I love Bogle Petite Sirah. I've also had people tell me that it is vin de merde. I don't care. I like it and it is pretty affordable.

                            1. re: jpc8015

                              as long as it's your money and your glass, I'll argue for your right to enjoy it.

                                1. re: zin1953

                                  (I might bite a hole in my lip if it's Boone's Farm, but I'll keep my mouth shut...)

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Technical foul: Boone's Farm was (is?) in a separate category of "pop wines," rather than in the category of "still table wine" that 2BC is in . . .

                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      but if someone wants to drink it, I'll gag inwardly, but won't say a word.

                                      (I'll also make a mental note to never open wine *I* like for them...)

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          Why not? Perhaps they are poor. Many well-educated, cultivated people have limited incomes for various reasons. I earned more thirty years now than I do now. Many highly-educated people have very precarious incomes nowadays.

                                          We don't have "two buck chuck" here in Québec, due to taxation (if it all went to healthcare and education, that would be fine). But I am certainly knowledgeable about wine and food, and enjoy things I can rarely afford to buy.

                                          I'm not saying that to complain about my life. I'm not homeless or on social assistance, and the work I do is rewarding - it is just very irregular now.

                                          I admit I've never drunk the stuff, and I very much doubt I would if I visited the US, as a wine three times as expensive seems cheap to me, and I'm sure I'd find better ones.

                                          I'm more worried about more upscale New World wines (not only the Americas) that contain far too much residual sugar.

                                          1. re: lagatta

                                            Lagatta, by and large the stuff generally *is* crap -- technically sound, commercial-grade "plonk" that borders on "insipid." But it certainly is not flawed; it won't kill you; and obviously thousands and thousands of people not only drink it, but drink it REPEATEDLY!

                                            Sunshine and I are in complete agreement on this score. Neither one of us (I'm sure) would drink it voluntarily, and the fact that someone else enjoys it tells us -- well, it certainly tells ME -- a lot about the individual's taste (and knowledge) when it comes to wine. And neither one of us would open a wine we adore for someone who adores 2BC . . . unless that individual is a student in one of my wine classes.

                                            1. re: lagatta

                                              having ventured over to the back 40 at Boone's Farm in my younger years, if that's all I could afford, I simply wouldn't drink wine at all, saving the money until I could afford a bottle of Charles Shaw (which, at $3 a bottle, is actually cheaper than Boone's Farm....)

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                Potters 100 proof vodka will give you the most bang for the buck.

                                                1. re: jpc8015

                                                  not if you're looking for a glass of wine..

                                                2. re: sunshine842

                                                  Oh, I heartily agree, and at least it isn't sweet!

                                                  I've never drunk Boone's farm either, but I shudder at the horror.

                                  2. re: wineglas1

                                    And how is that is disagreement with what I wrote?

                              1. re: LargeLife

                                Largel I have heard the "knowledgeable" word over used. They are not serious wine drinkers. The stuff is terrible. McDonalds is also really popular and they move truckloads of processed burgers every week too.

                                1. re: wineglas1

                                  "The stuff is terrible"

                                  ...says you.

                              2. Oh man. You just ruined it for me. I only cook with it but still.....

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Njchicaa

                                  Exactly. We buy solely for cooking.

                                2. The "article" you linked to is about as credible as my aunt's hairdresser making $2317 week working from home, click here and find out how!

                                  1. Oh no, it's not vegan? Ridiculous what passes for "news" these days.

                                    1. the more I read on HuffPost the more I'm beginning to consider it the newest iteration of "journalism" like the National Enquirer.

                                      This entire article is a showcase of how very little the writer knows about wine, particularly wines produced for the mass market.

                                      (produces overripe grapes? Really? EVERY wine region produces overripe grapes if you don't pick them in time....)

                                      1. Nice alarmist link with very little credibility.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: ferret

                                          don't see anything alarmist about it.

                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                            apparently there was enough of a problem with the entire article that HuffPo killed it. (justifiably, IMO)

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              Darn! I was just heading over to read it. Apparently, it wasn't worth my time!


                                        2. The "author" simply has an axe to grind. How dare the producer of Charles Shaw:

                                          1) Own his own land
                                          2) Plant his crops in such a manner to maximize his yield
                                          3) Automate the harvesting process to minimize costs
                                          4) Own his own processing and bottling facilities
                                          5) Make a profit

                                          What the author doesn't say is how many other wineries are operated in a similar fashion. I would venture to bet that the $5-$10 bottle sitting next to Charles Shaw on the shelf is produced in exactly the same manner.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: jpc8015

                                            Don't be silly. The $10, $20, $40 bottles have grapes that are lovingly caressed and given backrubs before they are picked through a gauzy haze of romantic idyllic sunsets, all day, with a musical score by John Williams. The fauna are given relocation allowances and shuttle buses to move. And the pickers all have advanced degrees in oenology.

                                            And the Huffpo is journalism.

                                            Of course you are correct.

                                            Rodent blood. Please. Because animals have such poor hearing they can't tell when a tractor is coming and can't, um, move. And a stemmer-crusher -- the kind everyone uses -- is and has been such an ineffective device for the last century or so at separating grapes from, you know, non-grape material.

                                            How a guy who claims to be a wine buyer has never seen a harvest or crush is beyond me.

                                            Oh, wait, let's see... wine buyer for a store that sells expensive wine that isn't this product... conflict much? Naked self-interest?

                                            There is also much that is factually wrong with that article as well, at least based on previous reports from much more reliable sources. Shaw isn't a single vineyard monolithic juggernaut manufactured end-to-end by Franzia at all, but lots of leftover odds and ends from a variety of bulk producers and second labels distributed by them under the CSW label, which is why it varies so much from year to year and varietal to varietal. Sometimes it's plonk and sometimes it wins medals.

                                            1. re: jpc8015

                                              A quick Google finds numerous growers harvesting by machine. Here's just one article:


                                              As for "huge claws":

                                              "picking heads that shake grapes but don't scratch the plants' trunks or branches"

                                              You'd imagine that an alleged skinflint like Franzia wouldn't want to use equipment that would harm his grapevines (it's not like you can replant and bear fruit instantly, it takes 3 years for a new vine to bear fruit) so the brutal imagery of that article appears to be a bit of an exaggeration.

                                            2. I don't know much about wine, but I know enough to recognize some crap journalism. I had a friend who was a machinist at Bronco, and I asked him about Two Buck Chuck, specifically why it was so inconsistent. He said that Bronco owns a bucketload of wine brands and controls vineyards all over California's major (and some minor) wine growing regions. They'll bottle a bunch of zin for one label (just as an example), and they'll have some wine left over when they're done with the run. That leftover wine gets blended with the leftovers from other batches from other labels, and eventually it all gets bottled as "Charles Shaw". He told me that sometimes it's really great wine that goes into the bottle, other times it's truly swill, but most times it's a mishmash of great/good/swill all mixed up.

                                              According to another friend, the best way to buy Two Buck Chuck is to buy a single bottle, take it out to the car, open it, and taste it. If it's any good, go back into the store and buy a few cases with the same coding. If it's swill, take it home for cooking.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: ricepad

                                                That's what I do when I find some cheap ($3 to $4 ) wine at Costco and Sam's. keep a cork screw in the car and give it a taste before leaving. Some real good wine sometimes can be had, but it is all gone within a day or two.

                                                1. re: ricepad

                                                  Yes the grapes are sourced from all over and yes they are not all going to taste the same. The big reason for its popularity is that 90% of wine drinkers drink wine like water. They never hit any taste buds to detect all of its flaws.

                                                2. Apparently that "article" is a three-year-old response to a question on Quora - and hardly fact-filled. There's a thoughtful response here but requires a bit of reading:


                                                  The gist of it is that the Charles Shaw harvesting and winemaking process is pretty similar to other winemakers. Anything grown outdoors has an equal (and exceptionally low) chance of getting bugs, rodents and birds included in the harvesting. Like it or hate it, Charles Shaw wine may not be your cup of tea, but it isn't full of animal blood.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: ferret

                                                    or mold, or rotten grapes, or leaves, or any of the other detritus that this scaremongering excuse of a "journalist" (I use the term very loosely) describes.

                                                    His glass may, however, contain a lot of very sour grapes.

                                                  2. >>>
                                                    "Editor's Note

                                                    This blog post contained un-sourced claims about Two Buck Chuck and its proprietor, Bronco Wines. It has been removed from the site in accordance with our blogger terms."

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: al b. darned

                                                      I am shocked that HuffPo has "blogger terms." Because I can't see much difference between HuffPo and a YouTube comment thread (although for HuffPo's first 10 or 12 minutes of existence, it was a pretty decent site).

                                                      1. re: small h

                                                        I agree -- when they first started out, they were a fun read.

                                                        But this at least indicates that there's a shred of journalistic ethos left somewhere....

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          It is still fun to read...like Mad Magazine or Penthouse.

                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            <<when they started out>> = before they were sold

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              Too bad no one at HuffPo noticed there were unsubstantiated claims (though many 'hounds did) before posting it on their site. Does no one read it before it goes up?


                                                          2. If you are "icked" out by this you also will want to avoid the dollar menu at any fast food restaurant. In fact any "conventionally raised" meat or fowl. Or heck grain.

                                                            Hopefully you own a large plot of land and have the know-how to raise and grow (and butcher) your own.

                                                              1. Two Buck Chuck varies all over the place, depending on what was available at the time of bottling (the man behind it, whose name is not Charles Shaw, is an old-time wine country insider who buys up odd lots and leftovers and bottles them). Some batches are actually very good, some can strip varnish off furniture, and most are somewhere in between. The tricks to buying it are 1) don't think of it as anything more than a decent vin ordinaire and 2) try a bottle, and if you like it get a case of the same lot immediately because the next one is going to be different.

                                                                I keep it around for cooking, deglazing, sangrias and hot mulled wines. I save the good stuff for my friends.

                                                                1. Good for cooking, what do you expect for cheap.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: treb

                                                                    Instead of Two/Three Buck Chuck, I buy boxed wines (like Black Box) instead. It's a little more expensive per 750ml but it tastes better (to me) and it keeps a lot longer once it's opened.

                                                                    1. re: Robotron

                                                                      You know what else keeps the wine from going bad? Finishing it sooner. I can help you with this problem and what a problem to have.

                                                                  2. So the original blogger has basically circled back and folded like a house of cards, all while basically blaming us for being stupid and misunderstanding him.


                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                                      This guy is a self righteous douche bag and the Huffington Post has zero journalistic standards. That is all.

                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                        what an utter jackhat...

                                                                        It was never intended "as a fully qualified, well-researched piece of accurate journalism."

                                                                        "I agree completely with the criticisms of my grossly oversimplified and exaggerated description of machine harvesting"

                                                                        an entire paragraph talking about how those sensationalist (his word, not mine) statements weren't talking about telling people what to drink....but makes no mistake about making CS sound like used motor oil mixed with rubbing alcohol so that people wouldn't want to drink it anyway...

                                                                        and "my gross exaggeration of the presence of MOG in the wine, which I admit to"

                                                                        Dude, if your intent was to "not make any judgements or prescriptions" you should have given it, oh, three seconds' thought and wrote it as a neutral factual piece, not a prime example of sensationalistic yellow journalism.

                                                                      2. Uh . . .


                                                                        Editor's Note
                                                                        This blog post contained un-sourced claims about Two Buck Chuck and its proprietor, Bronco Wines. It has been removed from the site in accordance with our blogger terms.


                                                                        Who said "axe to grind"???

                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                          Who said "axe to grind"???

                                                                          That was me.

                                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                                            have you read the rebuttal-that's-mostly-excuses yet?

                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                NOT ONLY do I find it rather embarrassing that Chris Knox (who allegedly owns a wine shop, according to this article, but never did) apparently has no clue how wine is made, what's legal and illegal, and -- quite possible -- in which direction the sun rises and sets, but NEITHER does author of the article appearing on wineindustryinsight.com . . .

                                                                                This is exactly what I *hate* about blogs -- anyone can put $#|+ out there, seeming to speak with authority (but in reality with nothing but a mouthful of crap), but also there is no sense continuity, no sense of propriety, nor is there any sense of journalism with its duty of inform, and its obligation to educate.

                                                                                I am disappointed that no one seems to fact-check, no one seems to know history. For example, the article written by "Jen Carlson" states¹:

                                                                                "First, Two Buck Chuck (technically, Charles Shaw) is owned by Bronco, which is owned by the Franzia brothers (we are told they are not related to the low-alcohol sugar water pawned off as wine and sold in a box). In an online comment, wine shop owner Chris Knox alleged how Franzias manage to keep Two Buck Chuck at such a low, low price:"

                                                                                Where to start?

                                                                                a) "Two Buck Chuck" is a nickname. The wine is not "technically" Charles Shaw; it IS Charles Shaw.

                                                                                b) To say "we are told . . ." in an article is to shirk one's own responsibility to fact-check. Plus, "low-alcohol sugar water pawned off as wine"? That's just a snarky attempt to be dismissive and rather offensive. The fact is that the Franzia family *did* own the Franzia® brand of California wines, and were early adapters of the wine-in-a-box packaging (along with Summit), but the Franzia Winery was sold in the 1970s to Coca-Cola, which subsequently sold it to The Wine Group. John, Fred, and Joe Franzia were (as per the terms of the original sale to Coca-Cola) were barred from competing with Coca-Cola in the wine industry for five years, after which they re-entered the wine trade as both a producer (Bronco Wine Co.) and a California statewide wholesaler (Classic Wines of California, which used to distribute wines ranging from Glen Ellen to Robert Mondavi, among others).

                                                                                c) Apparently, according to information on the internet that took a whole two minutes to find -- that is, his personal bio posted on Quora (https://www.quora.com/Chris-Knox) -- Mr. Knox is:

                                                                                ---> Currently an in-house web developer / web designer / graphics designer / data specialist
                                                                                ---> Former Manager/Wine & Craft Beer Buyer for a retail Wine Shop, co-owner of a catering company, restaurant manager, bartender.

                                                                                NOT the same thing as owning a wine shop, is it?



                                                                                And none of this criticizes the writings of Chris Knox directly, which is significantly WORSE than anything "Jen Carlson" wrote . . . .

                                                                                ¹ I write intentionally "Jen Carlson" in quotes, as this is how it appears here -- http://gothamist.com/author/Jen%20Car... -- where a list of articles appears and it reads, Articles by “Jen Carlson” . . . .

                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                  >>>NEITHER does author of the article appearing on wineindustryinsight.com . . . <<<

                                                                                  Just to note that the original publisher of this second article with the exceedingly low journalistic standards (i. e. none) was The Gothamist.

                                                                                  WII just found the article and passed it on for the amusement of the industry.

                                                                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                  no, there's an article from Knox somewhere that's a lot of whining and moaning about how he wrote an unresearched piece but he was soooo misunderstood.

                                                                                  It's on another thread around here somewhere.

                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    It's at the bottom of the article TDQ linked to above. It's only a screen grab on Gothamist so quotes can't really be lifted without retyping. It's the same link I posted a few posts earlier.

                                                                                    Both are right here in this thread.

                                                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                                                      I retyped quite a bit of it on the other thread that was being discussed for a while.

                                                                              2. re: zin1953

                                                                                Yes, I saw that before perusing this thread, but was scrolling down to see if anyone else had read the rectification of the original article.

                                                                                I only wish we had some cheaper wine (even three of four dollars!) here in Québec. (Even five or six or seven dollars!!!)

                                                                                Of course, we can't compare to the US because our health care is paid by our taxes, while people in the US have to spend large sums on health insurance. However, wine is cheaper in the neighbouring province of Ontario, which has the same health care coverage.

                                                                              3. There is a market for it, doesn't mean you have to buy it or drink it.

                                                                                1. The article was taken from online comments made three years ago by a wine shop owner. Since then, the original author has published a statement indicating that his off the cuff remarks were in no way investigated or substantiated, and should not be considered journalism. He was rather ranting about the place of factory farming and production in the wine industry. Yes, Two Buck Chuck is cheaper because it's made using cheaper techniques. And those cans of spray on cheese at the grocery store are NOT (spoiler alert) rounds of fine French Camembert that has been stuffed into a can.

                                                                                  As a gourmet cook and foodie, two buck chuck has occasionally made it's way into my kitchen. True, I don't serve it in snifters with a fine cigar, and have actually used it more for deglazing pans or for when I need a tablespoon of acid in something. But hey, at $2 it's about as cheap as vinegar. I've also mulled it during holiday parties when I want the house to smell like Christmas. Ok...so endorsing it as a cleaning supply and household fragrance isn't the highest commendation possible, lol.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Davey1107

                                                                                    HuffPo has zero journalistic integrity...period.

                                                                                    1. re: Davey1107

                                                                                      Davey? I wouldn't read this whole long thread, either, but . . .

                                                                                      >>> The article was taken from online comments made three years ago by a wine shop owner. <<<

                                                                                      Apparently, according to information on the internet that took a whole two minutes to find -- that is, his personal bio posted on Quora (https://www.quora.com/Chris-Knox) -- Mr. Knox is:

                                                                                      ---> Currently an in-house web developer / web designer / graphics designer / data specialist
                                                                                      ---> Former Manager/Wine & Craft Beer Buyer for a retail Wine Shop, co-owner of a catering company, restaurant manager, bartender.

                                                                                      NOT the same thing as owning a wine shop, is it?


                                                                                      >>> Since then, the original author has published a statement indicating that his off the cuff remarks were in no way investigated or substantiated, and should not be considered journalism. <<<

                                                                                      Well, they certainly weren't "journalism," that's true, but they are also filled with factual errors that ANYONE in the wine trade knows (or should know, if they want to stay in the trade -- which, apparently, Mr. Knox did not).


                                                                                      >>> He was rather ranting about the place of factory farming and production in the wine industry. <<<

                                                                                      No, he was ranting about 2BC and Fred Franzia.


                                                                                      >>> Two Buck Chuck is cheaper because it's made using cheaper techniques. <<<

                                                                                      Yes, and those very same techniques are used by a host of wineries producing expensive wines, too! (Primarily, it's cheaper because the Franzias are using cheaper grapes.)

                                                                                    2. The chardonnay is fine for spritzers and mixed with juice on the rocks in a big glass...which is how I drink white wine in the summer.

                                                                                      Woodbridge big bottles are almost as cheap on sale at Safeway