Two Buck Chuck

5 Jan

We’ve all tried it: Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s. But is it any good? Is it worth your time?

In spite of the fact that their wine should be called three buck chuck (prices have risen, but that moniker lacks onomatopoeia), I’ve had TJ’s wines at several functions and always deemed them “drinkable”. Ok, but does that mean you should drink it? No, you should drink what you like. Just because you CAN drink it doesn’t make it worthy. Hey, you could drink urine. I would never advocate it, but evidently it’s drinkable (gross!) in a matter of life and death. Thankfully, wine is NOT a matter of life and death.

Shaking off that tangent (and assuming you haven’t closed your browser) let’s consider TJ’s Wine. It’s my firm belief that Two Buck Chuck is an alternative to the $8-11 bottles you might find  in a wine store: every day, drinkable table wine, kind of like how Uncle Ben’s Rice is an acceptable side dish. It serves a purpose, though you probably won’t be writing home about it.

I had a blast reading this article from Thillist by Ben Robinson who convinced pal Sam Lipp, the GM of Union Square Cafe, to casually rate TJ’s wines along with Robinson’s beer-drinking girlfriend while eating pizza. The blithe commentary is a hoot, with the girlfriend’s less-refined opinion carrying as much weight as Lipp’s in the storyline. It’s a fun read for anyone who loves wine, because we’ve all been there at some point in our lives:  just hanging out and drinking whatever is laying around with your friends. Like drinking with your buddies, the notes  get funnier as they go along.

On the other side of the spectrum is S. Irene Virbila’s article in the LA Times which expressed a former appreciation and now a certain disdain for TJ’s wine. But even if these wines are only useful for quaffing at barbecues or for quiet Tuesday night dinners at home, Virbila’s article expressed that in spite of finding a gem, TJ’s wine was truly a waste of time. I couldn’t help but notice that not one of the wines considered was in the generic two-buck-chuck category. Perhaps that was a mistake. But at what point do the best of the generic wines compare to the bottom of the name brand wines? 

Everyone knows that I’m constantly looking for great value in wines. Well, I’ve never seen a decent amarone for under $20. Anatoli Levine (aka Talk-A-Vino on WordPress) shared his position on Amarone from Trader Joe’s which intrigued me. I look forward to tasting his picks, and I’d love to hear more opinions from anyone who has tried these wines!

Just because a wine is drinkable doesn’t make it good or even worth my time. This is why I constantly seek out great value in $8-13 bottles to share with you.  

But if you enjoy it, if the wine gives you pleasure… well then isn’t that worth your time? If you would drink a $9 bottle of every day table wine, why not a $3 bottle from Trader Joe’s if all you want is a basic vin du table?

Knowing that every day won’t be a dinner of delicacy, sometimes you just throw together whatever you have laying around. So maybe we’ve found the perfect solution for pairing a white wine with a box of mac and cheese. In the end, it’s all about finding wines you like, and wines that give you pleasure. 

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2 Responses to “Two Buck Chuck”

  1. Whine And Cheers For Wine January 6, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    Love your;
    “drinkable”. “Ok, but does that mean you should drink it?”
    Very well put LOL.
    Thank you.

    Like

  2. talkavino January 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    Thanks for the shout! Looking forward reading your notes on the TJ wines – I find a lot of them quite pleasant.

    Like

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