Charles Shaw

by Nannette Eaton on April 18, 2009


“Every time you drink an inferior bottle, it is as if you took a fine bottle and smashed it against a wall.  You can’t get that bottle back!” — Len Evans

Wine Biohazard


So much for Wine Harlots doing shiny happy wine reviews.  We tried to be all cheerleader super-positive; but our inner-bitch won the battle (it wasn’t much of a struggle, actually).  Sorry, mom!

Life is too short to drink bad wine.  “Two-buck Chuck” shouldn’t be put in your mouth, let alone ingested.  If you look back at our prior columns, it’s clear that we Wine Harlots don’t have a bias against value wines; we have a bias against shitty wines.

When this first came out seven years ago, we tried it, and were traumatized.  For the sake of research we gave it another go.  We tasted the zinfandel and the merlot.  It doesn’t take much to get us to finish a bottle of wine.  We didn’t even want to finish a glass.  It was so foul descriptive words failed us.  Our tasting notes, were “yuck” and “you’re kidding, right?”  We sampled again four hours later and the following day.  The next day the wines were marginally better, but still undrinkable.

Wikipedia indicates “the affordable Charles Shaw Chardonnay wine beat out 350 other California chardonnays to win the double gold at the 2007 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition.”  If we were better journalists we would have tried the chard, but a Wine Harlot has limits, and this was ours.

The alcohol content was 12.5%.  Cork closure.  The wine is produced by Bronco Wine Company who brag that they produce 55,000 cases of this wine a day.  The purveyor of this liquid is our friends at Trader Joe’s.  The price is $2-4 USD, but Wine Harlots recommend buying lottery tickets instead, you’ll have a higher probability of getting a winner.

The music selection is “Freeway” by Aimee Mann from the album @#%&*! Smilers.  If you’re stuck with a dud of a bottle, you need to have great music.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Eyer April 19, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Hey I have to say I completely concur with your sentiments regarding “Two-buck up-Chuck”! I recently posted a similar diatribe entilted, “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” regarding Bronco wines efforts to get this wine in restaurants across America. Not sure if you seen it, but I would love to hear your feedback on it. Cheers!

Wine Harlot April 19, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Thank you so much for your kind words. I just read your post on Chuck. It was spot on. And I feel the same way about the clunky stemware, it works my last nerve! I loved your article on Justin. They produce some really delicious grape juice. I’m also reluctant to join wine clubs.

I’m also in San Diego, North County. One of these days we’ll have to get together for a glass. I added your blog to my feed reader and added you at Wine 2.0. Thanks again.


Niecey B April 19, 2009 at 1:36 pm

We purchased this as a “back-up wine” for our wedding several years ago (you know – so that you don’t run out of liquor after everyone drinks all the good stuff. And presumably at that point they’re too “happy” to care what they’re drinking.)

Family friends decided to help us clean up after the reception by taking the extra wine off our hands. (They were concerned that we didn’t have room in our car to take it home – how thoughtful!) They took most of the leftover bottles but, remarkably, the Charles Shaw just wouldn’t fit into their car. I believe that says it all….

Wine Harlot April 19, 2009 at 2:05 pm

I does say it all.
Wine Harlots like value plays, but this one was painful.

Beer Harlot April 19, 2009 at 3:30 pm

WOW I could not agree more WH. You harlots have spot-on taste!

Erin April 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Oh snap!

I know I’m reading this two years after you published it. But it rings true today. There is no expiration date on your good taste! Thanks for writing, and thanks for penning what is in my top quotes of the [insert applicable time period here].

“we Wine Harlots don’t have a bias against value wines; we have a bias against shitty wines.”


The Wine Harlot April 8, 2011 at 9:19 pm

No worries!
I’m just happy that you’re reading my words.
And liking my words!
Normally I don’t write about wines I don’t like because I feel it fills readers mind with what not to buy, which isn’t so helpful at the supermarket, but Two Buck Chuck just works my last nerve.
Thank you so much for visiting Wine Harlots. I hope you’ll be back soon, or add it to your feedreader.



WineExpert December 20, 2011 at 10:17 pm

you guy are out of your minds, probably working for the other wine companies who do not like Charles Shaw, because they are so cheap. In todays economy this is the best wine in the world!

Astrid Hamilton April 8, 2012 at 5:20 pm

what’s interesting to me is that i cannot find a $ 2.50 / 750ml bottle of grape juice (more like $4), yet a bottle of wine is not a problem !

The Wine Harlot April 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Works for us!

Shawnm April 23, 2012 at 11:08 pm

At in 2007, Gary Vaynerchuk, the man with the golden palate, tasted the entire line of 2005 Charles Shaw wines. He panned most of them, but two wines got respectable scores: the 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (83 points) and the 2005 Shiraz (84 points).

So, clearly, Bronco can make wines worth drinking at the $2 price point.

Here’s a link to Gary’s review:

The Wine Harlot May 23, 2012 at 6:11 am

Glad you enjoy the Charles Shaw, Shawnm.
It’s not something I enjoy, but wouldn’t it be a boring world if everyone liked the same things.

glen April 15, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Orchestrated slander. Good try you guys. Surprised you haven’t been sued for this effort. Stand outside Trader Joe’s and ask the happy customers leaving with several bottles of Charles Shaw wine what they think and you will hear only positive comments. Thousands and thousands of people like the wine very much. At blind taste tests it constantly scores high. Either you are jealous or have been brainwashed by the name, which by the way is not, “Two-buck Chuck”. That is also an attempt by envious competitors to stop the success of this excellent table wine sold at a price common people can afford.

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