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'Two Buck Chuck' Wine

Updated on June 8, 2008

Charles Shaw Wine: Cheap Crap or Tasty Extreme Value?

Two Buck, Three Buck, or Four Buck Chuck

Depending on where you live, you can buy a bottle of Charles Shaw wine for as low as $1.99. Sold exclusively through Trader Joe's, Charles Shaw wines are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, and Beaujolais nouveau.

Unlike other low-cost, economy wines, Charles Shaw wine is bottled in glass bottles with real corks--no boxes, screw caps, or giant jugs involved. In fact, other than the price tag, Charles Shaw wine looks like any other respectable wine out there.

Charles Shaw wine even boasts various awards. In fact, Shaw's California Chardonnay took first place for Best Chardonnay from California in June 2007.

Common Charles Shaw Wines

A Wine Display at Trader Joe's

Charles Shaw Wine Myths

One of the most interesting things about this wine, other than the low price of course, is that it is surrounded by urban legends. I've heard many different stories, but here are the most popular:

  1. Airlines can no longer use corkscrews, so they dumped their stocks of wine on the market.
  2. United Airlines, in an attempt to raise some quick cash to avoid bankruptcy, sold their supply of Charles Shaw wine.
  3. Charles Shaw is engaged in a bitter divorce battle with his wife, thus reduce the value of his winery by selling the wine at the lowest possible market price.
  4. Charles Shaw's widow was so upset by the squabbling of her children over his estate, that she decided to reduce the value of their inheritances by lowering the price of the wine.
  5. Owner, Fred Franzia, is a convicted felon. He bought the label on the cheap from the ex-wife of the real Charles Shaw. He's trying to pass the wine off as a Napa wine, although the grapes come from all over.

Watch Out for the Wine Hangover--Cheap or Not

Whether you buy economy or expensive wines, remember the best choice is to drink any alcohol in moderation.  One 3.5 ounce glass of wine contains around 74 calories.
Whether you buy economy or expensive wines, remember the best choice is to drink any alcohol in moderation. One 3.5 ounce glass of wine contains around 74 calories.

The Facts About Charles Shaw Wine

The Charles Shaw label is owned by the Bronco Wine Company, which produces a variety of low-cost wines.

Why is it so cheap?

Supply and demand: There are a lot of wines available in the world, but not the demand to meet it.

As well, Charles Shaw wine, according to, is "almost certainly made with cheaper grapes from California's Central Valley." Bronco Wine Company owns a vinery and bottling facility in Napa, thus the label.

Is Charles Shaw a real person?

You bet! He bought a Napa winery in the 1970's, but sold it after his divorce in 1991.

Is Charles Shaw wine only temporarily available at this price?

There is no reason to rush out and stock up on Charles Shaw wine: it won't suddenly vanish from the market. Although, the price of a case is fairly low, so feel free to buy plenty if you wish.

Is it good wine, or crap?

You know that saying, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"? Well, wine is in the taste of the beholder. Some people love it, others think it is "okay", while others don't like it at all. The best way to decide is to shell out a couple bucks and taste it for yourself.

Remember to drink in moderation and stay safe.


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