Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw Wines (aka 3-Buck Chuck)

So, Texas finally got ourselves a few Trader Joe’s. Well, Houston and The Woodlands and Dallas and Fort Worth and Plano got them. San Antonio’s store is scheduled to open in a couple weeks, and poor old Austin has to wait until 2014! Such an injustice.

And, as your intrepid reporter, I made may way to the Houston location to pick up a few bottles of wine. For research purposes.

And I have good news and bad news, dear ones. Let’s start with the good news, shall we?

Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw Chardonnay is about the best $3 wine you’ll find. Unless you’re in California, where it’s only $2. Either way, it’s a decent, cheap wine for a decent, cheap price – pale for a Chard, but tastes nice with a little butter and melon. Try it, I think you’ll like it!

And you’ll also find that TJ’s Merlot is a decent red for the money. Straight up fruit, nothing complex, easy to drink. Give it a whirl, too.

But…and you knew there was a but coming. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You would be wise to steer well clear of the Trader Joe Sauvignon Blanc, which smells delightful but is so acidic, it’s difficult to drink. If you want a good, cheap Sauv Blanc, stick with Target’s Wine Cube. Trust me here.

And, their Cabernet Sauvignon leaves a lot to be desired. It’s like drinking watery cough syrup, I’m sad to say. If you have an HEB nearby, try their Cul de Sac Cab – it’s a better option for $3.

Well, that’s the run-down of the four varieties I purchased. If you’ve tried the White Zin or Shiraz, leave a note for the rest of us Texans!

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6 Responses to Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw Wines (aka 3-Buck Chuck)

  1. Matt Allen says:

    I’ve only had CS’s Cab Sav and Merlot, but from what I’ve read about Trader Joe’s and Charles Shaw wines in particular, if you get a bad bottle, try it again in a week or so. Apparently the shipments are so large and so frequent that every bottle you get can be a little different than the last. So, if you find one you like, it pays to pick up multiple bottles. It’s only $3, right? Personally, I haven’t gotten a bad bottle yet, but I’m speaking from a relatively small sample size of only 5 or 6 bottles.

    • Knighton says:

      Hey Matt!

      You know, that’s been my experience, too, from my days in the Pacific Northwest. Sadly, I was hoping the Cab would have been better than I remembered it. Though I’m glad to hear someone else likes it – maybe I got an off batch.

      I went ahead and picked up a mixed case of 3 bottles each of the four varieties I mentioned, and I’ll be back for more Chardonnay and Merlot. I think next time, I’ll also try the Pinot Grigio and Shiraz.


  2. Christine says:

    I’m happy to report that the Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw Chardonnay was $2.97 in Alameda, California — so us Texans are getting it for the same price. Their bottles look like the ones in the photo. The bottles I picked up in Houston have “Trader Joe’s” above the Charles Shaw. I am curious why they label them differently.

    I also had the Old Moon Zinfandel (not a white zin) from TJ’s – I believe it is their brand as well – and it is delicious. Try some if you have a chance! (Or come to my house and I’ll share!)

  3. Knighton says:

    Hi Christine!

    Next time I’m in town, I’ll have to try the Old Moon Zin you mention. Sounds fun. I also tried Josephine’s Rosé, which they sell for about $6. Best Provence-style rosé under $10 I’ve ever tried. I’ll have a review of that one next week.

  4. Water2wine says:

    Life’s too short to drink cheap wine. Proverbs 32:1 (Just kidding) Love your blog…I’ll keep checking in for wine ideas. Yeah, I heard CS is not that great. Probably better to spend a few bucks more a decent wine. Many of them can be had for $7 0r $8. Peace.

  5. JWS says:

    We have 2 Trader Joe’s stores here in the Cleveland area. I have tried some of the Charles Shaw (“Four Buck Chuck” here, as it’s $3.79 a bottle) wines, and they’re not bad for everyday drinking. The Chardonnay IS quite good, as is the Pinot, and the Shiraz, which I just opened a bottle of tonight. Thanks for the warning about the Cab. I don’t do Sauv Blanc, but I’ll steer clear. The Pinot Gris wasn’t bad, either.

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