It might sound insane, but there’s a decent bottle of wine out there that costs less than some bottles of water.
That’s been the gimmick of Charles Shaw, aka “Two Buck Chuck,” which hit the shelves at Trader Joe’s in January 2002. The wine’s $1.99 price tag, simple off-white label, and saccharine flavor, closer to grape juice than wine, sparked a collective freakout among American bargain hunters. It flew in the face of the wine world’s snobbery; it was every person’s bottle of wine.
For years, there’s been more legend than truth in the story of how it remains so inexpensive. Word on the street was that Shaw had slashed the price to spite his ex-wife, who owned half of his Napa Valley winery. Others claimed branches, dead birds, and insects were fermented as a filler along with the grapes to keep costs down. Chuck Shaw himself — who went broke, sold the brand, and disappeared from the limelight decades ago — never quite set the record straight.