In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10.

It has been years since I regularly purchased Two Buck Chuck, the ubiquitous Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw wines. Since the ready cash has been less ready as of late, the hubby thought it would be a good idea to give some of them another try. So here we go, delving into the mysteries of Two Buck Chuck.

photo of Charles Shaw MerlotCharles Shaw Merlot 2011 Alcohol 12.5% by Volume; $1.99 at Trader Joe’s

On The Label: “Cellared and bottled by Charles Shaw Winery, Napa and Sonoma, California”

My Take: Well, the label is interesting. They take grapes from the premier growing areas in California and use those in their wines. Hm…

The last time I had a bottle of Two Buck Chuck (actually I’m talking several years ago now), it was awful. I have a strange tolerance for bad wine – after the first few gulps, you can get used to anything – but that bottle turned me away from the wine for a very long time. This Merlot, however, was flavorful, with lots of fruit and a hint of depth. It went well with the chicken quesadillas and guacamole we had that night for dinner. Plus the lower alcohol content was nice; reds tend to hover between 13.5% and 14%.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~

(TIP: If you don’t want your dinner guests to know what name brand of wine you’re pouring, decant it first and hide the bottle. There’s no need to tell a soul!)

Charles Shaw Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Alcohol 12.5% by Volume – $1.99 at Trader photo of bottle of sauvignon blancJoe’s

On the Label: See above, lol.

My Take: Like almost all Sauvignon Blancs, this one has a crisp, almost sharp flavor. It’s a terrific spritzer wine, very like the Shaw Pinot Grigio, though we are past spritzer season here at Chez Ashworth. Will I rush out to buy it again? Um, not until next summer. Perhaps.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~

Overall, I was pleased that, should the worst happen and I be out on the streets with my hands out, begging, I can still find a bottle of wine that I can drink and only pay $1.99 for it. I still have a Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon in my wine cellar to try…I’ll admit I’m a bit scared! But as I was poking about the internet, I saw an article that said since Two Buck Chuck started selling, they’ve sold over six hundred million bottles. So they must be doing something right!

Have a great weekend, folks – and be good to one another.

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

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My Rating Scale: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!