linuxdave — February 12, 2006, 1:09 am

Charles Shaw (Two-buck-chuck) Cabernet

When people find out that I enjoy cheap wine enough to devote a website to it, they usually ask me if I have been to Trader Joe’s. My response, until last week, has always been “No, not yet”.

Well, I finally caved and took a trip to Detroit, the nearest Trader Joe’s location for me here in Lansing. Ann Arbor might actually be closer, but as an MSU Spartan, I try to stay out of there.

Trader Joe\'s - Home of Charles Shaw Wines

I’d like to preface this review of Charles Shaw Cabernet with a synopsis of Trader Joe’s. If you have one near you, go there. If not for the wine, then for the thousands of food items that pack the small market. I spent 80 dollars, which sounds like a bit much especially for me. I ended up leaving with 2 cases of wine and enough food for a week. Fresh mozzarella, fresh gnocchi, fresh salsa (notice a pattern?), Guacamole chips, Trader Joe’s Marinara, soups, veggies…. I was in heaven. They have got all kinds of cheeses, breads, meats, micro-brewed beers, and their wine selection was out of this world. What a great store!

Trader Joe’s is the exclusive retailer of Charles Shaw Wines, better known to most as “Two-buck Chuck”. In California these wines sell for $1.99, which is just amazing. Here in Michigan, though, the price was $2.99.

Did we like it? Was it worth the trip?

Hell yes it was! For 3 dollars, I don’t think it could have been any better. The Cabernet was great. At first, I found it to be a little sweet, but looking back, I was actually enjoying the salsa with the wine, which probably wasn’t a great combination. Along with the Cab, I also purchased some of the Shiraz, Merlot, and Chardonnay (reviews coming soon).

Congrats to Two-Buck-Chuck and Trader Joe’s for achieving the highest rating available here on Cheap Wine Reviews. Hats off to you!

Rating: 10/10
Price: $2.99
Place of Purchase Trader Joe’s


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  1. Comment by MaryGrace @ October 25, 2011, 5:46 pm

    Charles Shaw is delicious because it’s affordable. Things just taste better when you didn’t blow your entire paycheck on it.

  2. Comment by Daggerswan @ November 30, 2011, 4:46 pm

    In the order that I tried them:

    Merlot – tastes like $10 wine FTW!
    Shiraz – tastes like they should pay you $10. I could not finish a glass.
    Sauvignon Blanc – tastes like $7 wine. Perfectly fine table wine.
    Cabernet Sauvignon – tastes like $5 wine. Drink alone, don’t serve to guests.

    The Chardonnay is next. I wish our TJ had the Valdiguie. If it is similar to a Beaujolais I will pay $2.99 for it.

  3. Comment by John Valenti @ December 27, 2011, 6:42 pm

    Here is my review: Firstly, I am not an expert wine critic. I am not even a critic. I have been drinking wine off and on for about 40 years, but just not that much wine. I am much more an expert in beers or more correctly ales, and have been brewing for about 30 years. This review needs to be the final word on Charles Shaw wine, or at least Merlot. I have read many of the comments above and came to the conclusion that the Merlot was the wine I wanted to taste. Yesterday, the day after Christmas, I bought a bottle of CS Merlot. Today, after opening it and letting it sit for about 15 minutes and then pouring it through an aerator I settled down with some Ak-Mak organically grown whole wheat flour…sesame crackers with some hot salsa and Jack cheese, here is my ‘expert’ opinion: CS Merlot is my wine of choice for any Merlot at $15/bottle or less. I have nothing bad to say about it. My logic is why would I spend $15 for a bottle of any other brand of Merlot when I can spend $2.49 (what I paid) for a bottle of Charles Shaw Merlot? I know that there have to be a lot of Merlots out there which are better but I am sure they are much more expensive. I have just not tasted them. So, if you want to be a wine snob and criticize CS Merlot, it is still your right. I have been sipping on a glass while I write this comment and it is quite satisfying. I really appreciate a good buy. It is not alcohol spiked cool aid but in fact, a real wine. If you must spend $15-$20 for a bottle of Merlot, please do but I am quite pleased with a $2.49 CS Merlot. I can spend the other $12.50 on a good pizza to go with my CS Merlot.

  4. Comment by Jim S. @ January 7, 2012, 9:17 pm

    Long story short: I absconded with a case of CS Merlot my cousin bought, but left in my folks’ basement. They wanted it “gone” so I loaded it up and brought it back to Virginia with me. Need to send my cousin a check… yea, I should do that, shouldn’t I?…for the wine, so I checked the price for a Michigan purchase. Nice price: $3/ bottle. Read a lot of these reviews…agree with most that you should drink what you like, and if what you like is $3 a bottle, so much the better. Anyway, the CSM is a good wine…a ‘deal’ as it were.

  5. Comment by Big T @ February 11, 2012, 12:45 pm

    What a HOOT!
    I really enjoyed reading this comments section!
    (and, hell Yes, I’m buying a case or two of this wine today)
    Last night I had a $7 bottle of Stone’s “Self-Righteous” Ale (stout) and a couple of New Belgium’s “1554” (black ale).

    On our last big anniversary my wife and I spent a fotune on fine-dining with wines costing more than a days wages.

    Two-Buck-Chuck will fit my Friday night “un-winding binge” just fine based on the comments and review I’ve read this morning.

    Thanks to all!

  6. Comment by Bill @ March 12, 2012, 11:35 am

    I’m glad I didn’t write Daniel off as a snob and took the time to read his second post. I agree that the Bonny Doon Vineyards are a real find and produce great tasting wines at only slightly higher prices than CS 2—The Bonny Doon Big House Red is a blend that is great to have around as a quaffing wine and that I’ve taken to other peoples houses for dinner. I’ve been drinking it for years. It was one of the first CA wines to feature a screw top—-I still like it. It is now available in box form at Alberstons and when on sale, goes for about 18 bucks–(less than six per bottle)—guess what? I still like it.
    Here’s the amazing thing about two Buck Chuck. I take it back to Utah with me over the Holidays and give it to my friends who host a Christmas Party every year for friends who don’t generally drink a lot of wine (in Utah–they make it as difficult to buy liquor as possible) and people seem great with it as a Christmas party type wine.
    I guess, the old trick of buying a bottle at TJ’s–running out to your car and sipping a bit and (if it’s quaffable plus)—-go back in and get a case or two is still the best method. But I’ve had many a weird headache after a night of 2 Buck Chuck celebrating after a Detroit Tiger win and I wouldn’t wish one on my least favorite co worker. Maybe as a glass a night–sip with an In and Out Burger–or to accompany a fine Tombstone Pizza—HBO Sunday night watching session–but for really good poor mans wine quaffing, try the Bonny Doon Big House Red instead. Get it in the box. Embrace your Inner Italian Peasant.

  7. Comment by juice @ April 8, 2012, 8:37 pm

    why can’t i buy a 750ml bottle of grape juice for $2? Yet, wine is no issue

  8. Comment by Luis Ituarte @ July 21, 2012, 5:02 pm

    Someone should give Trader Joe’s recognition for the support of the arts in L.A. For the last 3 years, 2 Buck Chuck have being serve at almost any art show I have attended and I see most people dinking it, for a reasonable price for organizers is good that art events have a acceptable wine to offer for free

  9. Comment by theweedranter @ August 4, 2012, 3:36 am

    Well i tried this 2010 cab and i must say that for 2 bucks i feel like i’ve committed theft. I read these little rants on here about blah blah blah and duh duh duh duh duh and i can see this snobbery taking place this elitist attitude that somehow i am better than u because i am good at wasting money and have a tongue that is subjective. Very true taste is subjective and all but it can also be very objective if u know what ur doing. Sure i’ve tried many of wines and had plenty of hangovers (some much worse than others) but i must say that good ol’ bargain charlie is very nice company who won’t steal ur money and leave u feeling like u’ve just been robbed and assaulted. Well anyways i am a real cab sauv lover and i prefer to call them cabs, because i’m not pretentious, and i must say that when i go to Trader J’s i look in the wine section for a dusty old bottle of some vintage charlie cab which means i just stole a bargain because this $2.13 bottle of wine should of cost much more. The tannins are noticeable, the taste is not putrid (unlike some wines i’ve tried which i won’t mention not out of respect but because they’re not worth mention), the aroma is rich (unlike me), the effect is quite lucid, the balance is well balanced, and the finish is worth finishing the whole bottle, or saving for tomorrow.

  10. Comment by erik @ March 5, 2013, 10:37 pm

    Don’t be silly! It may be cheap but it’s actually a good blend. And well blent wines are more satisfying.

  11. Comment by Leroy @ June 25, 2013, 9:44 pm

    The Cab from the Charles Shaw winery in Sonoma CA. is a really a great, light tasting Cab. With this wine you don’t have to send an arm and a leg to get a great tasting wine to have with any pasta dish. I will buy this wine to have with pizza too.

  12. Comment by Charles Shaw is garbage! @ December 27, 2015, 7:32 am

    Sheesh. McDonalds and Taco Bell are cheap, and to a lot of ‘merican palates, they both taste darn good too. For many, the idea of a night out at an Olive Garden or a Red Lobster is considered fine dining.

    I guess if one lived in the middle of nowhere and decent wine was innacessible, this cheap garbage would be welcomed wholeheartedly. Great tasting? Are you kidding me?

    I enjoy a nice bottle from my wine rack(about once every weekend or so) with dinner. For most people, shelling out $10-$20 for a decent bottle (that actually tastes like the wine it claims to be) isn’t going to break the bank.

    I’ll take quality over quantity any day of the week. You couldn’t pay me to drink Charles Shaw. I’d rather go without any wine at all.

  13. Comment by It's garbage! @ December 27, 2015, 7:33 am

    Sheesh. McDonalds and Taco Bell are cheap, and to a lot of ‘merican palates, they both taste darn good too. For many, the idea of a night out at an Olive Garden or a Red Lobster is considered fine dining.

    I guess if one lived in the middle of nowhere and decent wine was innacessible, this cheap garbage would be welcomed wholeheartedly. Great tasting? Are you kidding me?

  14. Comment by Leo Fontaine @ March 3, 2017, 2:03 pm

    TJ is a great market…. I use ‘Shaw” Chardonnay and Cabernet for
    Cooking and drinking so I get two use’s And the price for the quality can’t be beat…….$2.99 for 26 ounces….750ml

  15. Comment by Ruth Gott @ May 22, 2019, 2:35 pm

    Where in Michigan can I buy or order Charles Shaw wine?

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