Friday, July 13, 2007

What The Chuck?

I was up with the sun today to talk on the phone with some euro friends before they scattered for the weekend when the news stories started coming on the morning TV news programs. Charles Shaw wines had won yet another taste test for its Chardonnay wine. I decided to take a stroll through the vast acreage of my wine cellar (not really) and check on my own stock of the wine that has become known as "Two Buck Chuck", referring to the $2.99 price tag, and in some areas even $1.99 a bottle!

I first heard about it a few years back when a similar taste test was done with culinary students about to graduate. They were blind taste testing a variety of wines and rated the Charles Shaw best. Then, they were shocked to find out the price. The wines regularly beat out other much more expensive wines when tested this way. So, I headed with a friend down to Trader Joe's, the exclusive retailer of the wine, and bought several mixed cases. I have been running my own tests ever since.

I have to say the Chardonnay is quite good. It is probably not something I would serve to a person who has a palate well-educated in wine vintages. However, for everyday entertaining, when friends drop by before heading out for the night, or those warm Summer nights when you are maybe dining alfresco with family, friends or neighbors, it is perfect. For the value you absolutely cannot beat it. So far I have tried the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay and the Gamay Beaujolais and all are good value. The consistency may be a bit spotty but I have never had a bad bottle.

Surprisingly, friends who know far more about wine than I do have also told me that they keep a store of Charles Shaw and enjoy it often. All of this proves the point, once again, that the price of a bottle of wine is not necessarily an indicator of how good the wine is. It all goes back to the simple rule that I abide by: if you like the wine then enjoy it, regardless of what others say.

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