TJ’s Two Buck Chuck-10 Years and 600 Million Bottles Later…

I was in a Trader Joe’s (“TJ’s”) today, and happened to notice the headline “Happy Anniversary Charles Shaw” on the Fearless Flyer.  The article noted “Two Buck Chuck” has been sold at TJ’s for  10 years, and a bit to my surprise, they’ve sold about 600 million  of Two Buck Chuck  (“TBC”) (along with the requisite marketing plug that it still sells for $1.99 ten years on – it is marketing after all…)  They also went on to proclaim…

Charles Shaw wine displayed in a Trader Joe's ...
Image via Wikipedia

…they’ve proven that a wine doesn’t need to be expensive to be good, drinkable wine.  These are not expensive; they are good, and they’re very drinkable.

I recall when it first came out,  I used to buy it pretty regularly.  At the time I’d just started to drink wine on a somewhat regular basis (maybe a bottle or two/week compared to five or six now), and I thought it was good.  I probably drank it, off and on, for about a year before I stopped drinking it.  Two Buck Chuck went on to spawn plenty of imitators, and a $2-$3/bottle wine can be found pretty much every where today.

Nowadays, I only consider Two Buck Chuck for Sangria.  From time to time I’ve heard tales of TBC winning blind tastings, and scoring well at this or that wine competition (don’t get me started on wine competitions).  So from time to time, I’ve wondered  if maybe I should be buying it as an everyday wine.  Then I snap out of it, as I say to myself “Life is too short to drink bad wine” (although, it would certainly make me appreciate the other wines).  Of course, what’s considered “good”, and “bad” wine is in the palate of the drinker.

The situation reminds me a bit of high-speed internet vs dial-up.  Once you’ve experienced high-speed internet, you can’t ge back to dial-up (at least I can’t!)  Of course it helps I’ve got the disposable income for high-speed internet.  I suppose if I my disposable income didn’t allow it, and I wanted internet service badly enough I could settle for dial-up.  But until then… It’s the same thing with wine for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got no objection to a what I think is good $5 bottle of wine.  In fact, I picked up a couple of bottles of Chariot Gypsy  while I was at TJ’s.  Is there that much difference between a $2 bottle of wine, and a  $5 bottle of wine?  Will I enjoy a $5 bottle of wine two and a half times as much as the $2 bottle?  Probably not.  Then again, we as consumers aren’t completely rational.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad…it just IS.  When was the last time you bought a bottle of TBC?


  1. I admit to purchasing one bottle of TBC when Trader Joe’s first came to my area. I didn’t get thru the first glass, It may technically be wine, but clearly not drinkable.

    I suppose the awards for this wine could be given in the Advertising and Marketing Category. As they continue to sell it with gusto.


    1. Thanks for your comment Eileen!

  2. Harvey Posert says:

    As the pr consulltant for Bronco Wine Company, producers of Charles Shaw wine, of course I am interested in consumer comments. The previous responder should be aware that there has never been an advertising or marketing budget for Charles Shaw. Period. And if some don’t like it, there’s still the fact that for every adult US citizen, three bottles each have been sold in these l0 years.
    Harvey Posert

    1. Harvey, thanks for the comment. The 10 year track record is amazing!

  3. Patricia Lonardo says:

    Are there better wines? Of course. However, for many of us “common folk”, there are times when that “cheap $2 bottle” matches PERFECTLY with a meal–sometimes even better than a more expensive wine! Yes, I enjoy “fine” wines…I am taking online courses in the hopes of eventually becoming a CSW, so of course I know a few things about wines.

    My biggest problem is the nearest Trader Joe’s is 120 miles away (at least that’s better than across the state like it used to be!).

  4. Hi Patricia – Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree that how well a wine matches a meal isn’t a function of price. I don’t think of it as “common folk” versus non-“common-folk”. Because I love wine so much, I’m motivated to try new, and what I think are “better” wines. But I don’t think my experience is typical, I think most consumers, especially those who aren’t into wine that much, and therefore haven’t tried a lot of wine are just fine with TBC (exhibit A-600M bottles sold!)- nothing wrong with that! And even for wine lovers, one’s palate tends not to be static, it evolves, and as it does, so does your taste in wine…Good luck on the CSW!

  5. Renee says:

    Great commentary Martin! I too did drink this “wine” when I first started getting into wine. Then my favorite wine shop owner, whom I trust, told me some nasty things about two buck chuck. One of them being it was made not entirely from vineyard grapes. And by then I had moved on to other wines not just inexpensive juice. I really cannot stomach the stuff anymore. Yes, every palate is different and any wine can fit any person. However, I do choose, whenever possible, to drink real wine, crafted by a winemaker with grapes that are sourced from a wine vineyard. $5 wine can still be serious wine, if you look hard enough, and not settle.

  6. With your commentary, I consider you an expert in wines. I agree with you that it is not about the price but it is about how it complements the food on the table. I just want to ask you what wine you like the most?

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