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Charles Shaw Wines: The Many Uses For Eco-Priced Wines, Like Two Buck Chuck, Aside From The Obvious.

Updated on October 19, 2012
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Graham is a former chef and food stylist with a passion for all things food-related. She has also never been known to decline dessert.


In 2002, Trader Joe's, began stocking it's shelves with Charles Shaw wines. Whether it was the trendy Trader, the absurd price of the bottles or the actual quality of the product, the wine best known as Two Buck Chuck catapulted to a cult following. Today, folks in Boulder, Colorado anxiously await the newest Trader Joe's opening provided the tricky Colorado liquor laws permit.

According to the Trader Joe's website, there are two reasons Shaw wines have garnered such a large and loyal following that continues today: "1. The wine is good: 2. The wine is a very good value."

In these poor economic times, good values are impossible to resist. Charles Shaw wines may not be every oenophile's dream, but surely good enough for a working-class-Joe.

The tale of Two Buck's popularity has been the topic of countless articles, but if you are unfamiliar with it's history allow me to recount it for you.

Charles F. Shaw winery, which produced Beaujolais-style wines, went out of business following his divorce. Having establish a rather reputable label, the Charles Shaw brand was subsequently sold to Bronco Wines. Fred Franzia's, nephew of Ernest Gallo, is the current CEO. Two Buck Chuck, which sells for $1.99 in California and slightly more in other parts of the nation, is made from surplus wine that have been bought and sold exclusively at Trader Joe's.

Shaw wines, considered generic by many, are still the least expensive bottles on the market. Compared to other econo-priced wines, such as Yellow Tail, Charles Shaw wines are equally potable. Although it is worth noting that both the Shiraz and the chardonnay are award winning.

In our culture, we tend to equate quality with either quantity or cost particularly when speaking about wines. An underpriced wine is presumed to be of inferior quality. A wine that in 2009 celebrated the sale of it's four-hundred-millionth bottle is too abundant to be noteworthy.

But when cash is tight, people search for a good buy. When the majority of American wine drinkers consider a $10 wine a splurge, a bottle of Two Buck Chuck seems to fit well within the budget.

Behind Trader Joe's $2 wine

Ways to enjoy wine
Mulled Wine
Salad Dressings
Syrups, Sauces


1 750-ml bottle red wine
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple juice
2 lemons, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
2 oranges, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
3 cinnamon sticks
2 whole nutmeg
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole allspice

In a heavy saucepan or slow cooker, combine the wine, sugar, apple juice, fruit and spices. Warm the beverage slowly over low heat without boiling for at least one hour. Strain before serving,


1 cup Brandy
1/4 cup Benedictine
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
6 bottles dry white wine

5 medium apples, cut into large circular slices
2 large lemons, thinly sliced
2 tsp whole cloves
3-4 Tbsp honey
a few sprigs of rosemary

Mix brandy, Benedictine, and Grand Marnier with the honey in something with a lid (perhaps a large mason jar) and shake it up to help dissolve the honey. Pour mixture into pitcher and add half of the lemon slices and half the cloves. Let this stand for at least a couple of hours.

When ready to serve, add sliced apples, remaining lemon slices and cloves, all the remaining wine, and a few rosemary sprigs.


½ pound bacon, diced
3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups of a hearty red wine
3 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon rosemary
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 bag of frozen white pearl onions (although I prefer fresh pearl onions)
8 ounces fresh mushrooms
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon red currant jelly

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a Dutch oven, sauté the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings. Brown the beef in the bacon fat in batches so as not to overcrowd the beef. When all are brown, return the beef to the pot and add the onion. Sprinkle the beef and onion mixture with salt, pepper and the flour. Stir to combine and cook, continuing to stir for a few more minutes to brown. Add the wine, the beef stock, the tomato paste, the rosemary and the reserved bacon. Stir to deglaze the pot and bring the mixture to the boil. Cover and place in the oven to cook for two hours or until the meat is very tender.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Bring water to the boil in a small saucepan. Add the cut carrots and parboil for about 7 minutes until crisp tender. Add them to the colander along with the onions and drain. Clean mushrooms, snip their stems and cut the caps into quarters. In a small sauté pan, melt the butter and then sauté the mushrooms until they have released all of their juices and are slightly browned. Set aside.
When the meat has cooked for 1 ½ hours, add the onion, carrots, mushrooms and jelly to the pot. Return to the oven and continue to cook for another 30 to 40 minutes to heat the vegetables through. Serve.

Wine jam is wonderful on cheese, grilled in a sandwich and used in a stock.
Wine jam is wonderful on cheese, grilled in a sandwich and used in a stock. | Source


¼ cup red wine
¼ cup port
2 tablespoons sugar
1 star anise
½ cinnamon stick
4 cloves
¼ teaspoon allspice
2 strips orange peel
2½ sheets gelatine leaves

Place all the ingredients except the gelatine in a small saucepan over low heat. Simmer gently for 6 minutes so the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Once soft and pliable, squeeze out excess water and add to the mulled wine mixture. Stir well to incorporate.

Carefully strain through a fine sieve, discarding the spices. Place back in the fridge to set.


  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix the wine, lemon juice, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette to taste.


  1. Heat 1tsp. oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add chopped a chopped carrot and a chopped celery stalk, along with a minced shallot until softened. Pour 4 cups beef stock and 2 cups red wine into the pot and bring the mixture to a moderate simmer. Turn the heat down and continue to simmer gently.

  2. Cook the liquid until it's been reduced by about half.

  3. Strain the liquid, return to saucepan.

  4. Heat the liquid till it begins to simmer. Reduce it by half, until you have about 2 cups altogether.

  5. Taste the sauce for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.

  6. Enrich the reduction by adding a tablespoon or two of unsalted butter.


  • 4 pears, on the firm side
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup sugar

Peel the pears, but leave them whole and keep the stems on them. Slice a small amount of the base off if you’d like them to sit up straight up when served.
Pour the wine, water, sugar, and spices into a large stockpot over medium-low heat. Gently add the pears to the poaching liquid.
Let the liquid heat and slowly simmer for about 30 minutes or until until pears are deep red in color.
Remove the pears from the poaching liquid.
Boil the liquid until it is thick and syrupy and drizzle over the poached pears.


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