“Two buck Chuck,” the Party Wine of the 90s Is Back

With apologies to Prince: Party like it’s 1999!

“Two buck Chuck,” the party wine of the 90s is back.

Yes, the price was reduced this week at Trader Joe’s.

We are talking about $1.99 a bottle from the Charles Shaw brand.

Bring it on, baby: wood chips, acid adjustment, blending, secret sauce, eye of newt, or whatever it takes.

It certainly drives the point home: wine does not have to be expensive.

Because, fyi, I think cheap (make that inexpensive) Sauvignon Blanc is more challenging to make than Chard or Cab, I checked out the 2018 SB at TJ’s.

My notes:

Slightly greenish color with some spice on the nose. Neither grassy nor herbal and without a melon or gooseberry in sight. Make that without much of an identifiable fruit.  Maybe a hint of grape. Medium bodied with a hint of sweetness but finishes with slightly tart acidity. Totally acceptable.

BTW, I prefer to taste white wines not chilled. Chilling a wine can masks any defects and off things.

Somms will be challenged to find a mineral or a crushed rock, scorched earth component. Or whatever the latest show-off terms are.

And the rest of us will wonder how is it possible to offer any wine at this price.

But for $1.99 in a real bottle with a cork, this SB is a party wine…

Note to dinner guests: “dont even think about it.”


Secret Stuff in A Perfect, 100 point Wine

Revealing the Hidden Pleasures Experts Find in 100 Point Wines

My friends at winetoday.com list 32 different wines that earned 100 points, a perfect score from wine experts.

Needing to take a break from various fact checking articles and today’s tweet storms, I decided to study the reviews and try to pinpoint what is in a wine that makes critics declare they have found perfection, Nirvana in a glass.

This seemed like a useful study to share since most normal wine loving people wouldn’t cough up the big bucks needed to buy most of those listed. The prices of these 32 perfect wines ranged from $115 to $1,249.99 a bottle. The cheapest was from Chile. The most expensive was actually on sale.

Most are red wines, so they like most good reds were loaded with blackberry, cherry, and plum fruit, with lots of violets and rose aromas, and had notes of various spices up the wazoo.

And off course the 100 pointers were ultra-ripe, plush, seamless, hedonistic, and smoother than a baby’s bottom. Some jump out of the glass which is a bit frightening. Another was built “like a brick house” which is good, I think.

But what else makes the 100 pointers different from the other red wines are three key ingredients:

  1. Dirt and Dust


Yes, dusty and dried things are frequently cited, so hold your breath.

The following are part of expert descriptions capturing the joys and pleasure to be found in 100 point wines:


…”hints of iron ore and dusty earth.”

…”raspberries and wet rocks.”

…“wet pebbles”

…”scorched earth”

…”dusty earth”

…”singed iron and chalky minerality”

  1. Smoke

No, this component was unrelated to recent wine country fires. But maybe critics should have had those masks handy because many perfect wines have these notes:

..”a.hint of barbecue smoke”

…”cedar and charcoal”

..”.a well-roasted frame of alder and juniper”

…”with wafts of dried roses, unsmoked cigars and tilled soil”

…”smoldering tobacco, charcoal and licorice”


  1. Truly strange stuff

“notes of creosote”

“beef drippings and cloves plus a hint of underbrush”


There you have it!

If you weren’t so frugal, you could be savoring a 100 point wine and enjoying every nuance of its dusty, dried, scorched earth aromas with enticing smoky barbecue and charcoal flavors culminating in creosote and beef drippings.

Then again, think of all the money you are saving.

True confession: I had to google “fenugreek,” and so will you, if curious.


A Two Part Wine Quiz for Millennials


Recently, one online retailer offered the 2015 Screaming Eagle

Napa Cabernet for $2,499.99 a bottle. That it was available was odd enough but then I asked myself, who would pay that for one bottle? And online?

Since millennials are the usual suspects for things we don’t understand, I created this fool-proof quiz to get some answers.


A. Which of the following would you buy for $2,499.99?

                  (hint, this can be pretend money or bitcoins)

  1. One Bottle of 2015 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. 36 bottles of 2015 Caymus Napa Cabernet Sauvignon        
  3. 24 bottles of 2014 Dunn Vineyards Napa Cabernet
  4. 48 bottles of 2015 Jordan Cabernet Alexander Valley
  5. 200 bottles of Prosecco. Maybe as many as 300.   
  6. 10 bottles of 2004  “Dom” Rose Champagne

B. Would you Who Checked “A-1” Buy the Screaming Eagle Based on this Review?

98-100 pts – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate  

“Blended of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon reveals a medium to deep garnet-purple color and nose of crushed blackberries, black cherries and wild blueberries with notions of fragrant earth, garrigue, lavender, Sichuan pepper and dried leaves. Medium-bodied with signature elegance and finesse, it’s the incredibly fine, oh-so-pixelated tannins that help to define the signature of this vineyard, beautifully supporting the elegant fruit, finishing with great poise. This is a very sensuous, pensive style and not for those seeking a full-on blockbuster but rather will greatly pleasure lovers of wines with quiet intensity and subtle depth. Note that this was a tank sample, due to be bottled within a week.”


Answer Sheet:


  1. You must love eagles and didn’t know this was a wine. Or you have too much money, low self-esteem, and are bad at math. Congrats…you can be a wine collector.
  2. You know your wine history and vintages. Show off!
  3. So you are stocking or starting a wine cellar and want one to hold for several years. Good for you…planning ahead. Are you really a millennial?
  4. You are a lover of “quiet intensity and subtle depth” and are very good at math.
  5. Party On! You might also qualify for…

“I’ll Be There In A Prosecco” T-Shirt offered on Amazon.

6. You know Dom?  Feel free to invite me to the tasting.


Yes, but who or what is a Robert Parker?

Is that an app, new designer running shoe or what?

And why so many, what are they…words?

No. How can you rate a wine before it is in the bottle? Tank sample?

Tank this!

And why does wine need an advocate, anyway?

Must be FAKE wine.  SAD.


Two New Candidates for The 2017 Edward Bulwer-Lytton Award for Wine Descriptions


1) An explosive yet reticent, manly wine. Does it speak to you? See full note below.

  2) A berry, berry wine with crushed (SAD)  red flowers. Read on.

Please vote for you favorite dark and stormy wine tasting note.

#1. 93+ Points. Vinous/Antonio Galloni

“Lavender, black cherries, cloves, menthol, orange peel and dark spices grace the explosive, powerful finish. Dark and enticing, but also quite reticent, the 2013 has a lot to say, but not just yet. The deep, inky finish gives the 2013 much of its virile personality.”

#2. Anonymous online review

“This Reserve is suave and rich on the nose with lots of fresh berries, plums, red flowers and raspberries. A nice sip of mixed berries including blackberries and dark raspberries, with root beer, forest floor, cinnamon spice, vanilla oak, and crushed red flowers. A long, and vibrant finish.”


These two finalists join the pithy or pith-poor description posted a few days ago.



Announcing The Edward Bulwer-Lytton Award for Online Wine Writing

There’s a new sheriff in town, checking out the Parker wannabes, pros, bloggers, and amateurs.

For “Dark and stormy night” tasting notes that go beyond pretentious and snobby to downright silly and useless, the competition is fierce.

Today’s Nominee:

Wine Enthusiast 91 points, quoted by http://www.wtso.com

“Quite light and restrained on the nose, this bottling from Richard and Thekla Sanford shows pithy Key lime and scratched grapefruit-skin aromas. There is a decent sizzle of acidity to the palate, with lime rinds, pith and juice playing together. Touches of almond and flint add interest.”

Does this qualify as a “pith-poor” or pithy description?

Please vote.