Whether you want to believe it or not the Holiday Season is upon us again.
That means cleaning and celebrating and decorating and celebrating and cooking and celebrating and shopping and celebrating and………..you get my point.
It’s time to start celebrating and what goes better with celebration than wine?
You won’t see me walking down the street in a Nike T-shirt or Budweiser Shorts or even a Coca Cola Baseball cap.
I don’t need someone else’s sense of style
I am what I am and if you don’t like it then just “unfriend” me.
That being said, if I do find something that is worthy of praise and is an incredible deal I am all over it like “a bum on a bologna sandwich.”
You have heard me sing the praises of the internet savings sights like Groupon and DealChicken.
You have heard me push travel programs like Hilton HHonors and Southwest Airlines “Rapid Rewards.”
You may even have seen me wearing a T-shirt from White Castle Hamburgers or Captain Tony’s Bar in Key West or Honda VTX Motorcycles because these items are worth every last penny of their value.
Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a display for “Charles Shaw” wine.
I remember “Two Buck Chuck” being quite tasty especially for its price so I thought I would pick up a bottle just to see if it was still the economic and sensory value I appreciated in the past.
What a pleasant surprise.
What a very pleasant surprise.
I don’t profess to be a wine connoisseur and I don’t play one on television but I know the difference between a well-bred terroir and a mug of vinegar.
We purchased a bottle of 2011 California Cabernet Sauvignon (Cab being our favorite grape) for a modest $2.99 plus tax.
I did not even remotely question the sizeable cost increase from its original $1.99 price tag that had been held for over a decade.
Let me explain first that Charles Shaw is a brand of "extreme value", bargain-priced wine.
Apparently there are many urban legends and rumors about how the brand came to be.
Friends have told me, and I’ve heard about how Charles Shaw wanted to devalue his winery and flood the market with cheap wine because he was getting a divorce and all of his wine company assets would be distributed to his ex-wife.
He couldn’t allow that could he?
That's not a true story!
Another rumor was that after 9/11 airlines could no longer carry corkscrews on board to open the wine bottles for those seated in first class so airlines dumped all their stock on the open market.
A bit far-fetched I think.
Charles Shaw began his wine business in 1979 and throughout the next decade he developed an outstanding line of Napa wine of high quality Beaujolais-style grapes where he spent all of his time marketing the product by visiting every hotel and restaurant in every state and by using special techniques where each of his wines were estate grown with layers of complexity and character.
But his business did not grow enough (Charles was actually ahead of his time with his dark red wines) and in 1989 the company was beleaguered by both debt and a mite infestation in his vineyards.
Charles was also in the throes of a complicated divorce.
In 1992, it all came crashing down to force the Charles F. Shaw Winery to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The company and name was sold to Bronco Wine Company headed by Fred Franzia, formerly of Franzia Brothers wines.
The real explanation why Charles Shaw wine (as well as other brands) can be had so cheaply right now is a mundane one: a wine glut.
The wine boom of the 1990s led vineyards to hastily increase production, but a downturn in the U.S. economy and the effects of September 11 terror attacks and another downturn in the U.S. economy have resulted in a greatly lessened demand (particularly in the restaurant industry), creating years of incredible oversupply.
Some vintners in northern California were even allowing their grapes to wither on the vine because the cost of picking them exceeded their market value.
The Charles Shaw label possessed a good reputation, though, and the Bronco Wine Co., being a mass-market wine conglomerate (currently the eighth biggest wine producer in California) revived the name in 2002 for sales of a line of inexpensive wines through the Trader Joe's chain of grocery stores.
So why is "Two Buck Chuck” now "Three Buck Chuck?”
Bad yields at the company’s vineyards in 2011 and 2012 contributed to the price hike.
I don’t know, I just thought it was interesting and it lends credence to my support of this product.
We tend to equate quality with cost, so the presence of an underpriced wine of such surprising virtue is refreshing and goes against the grain of the snooty highbrow wine fanciers we generally see on TV.
People like me have made "Two Buck Chuck" a very popular wine.
Charles Shaw is one of the top 20 brands in the USA.
I highly endorse it for its taste and I’d be a fool not to endorse it for its price.
I’m heading over to Trader Joe’s to pick up a case of Charles Shaw.
That will be the best $36 I have spent in a long time.
Hopefully they have a free t-shirt promotion with every case.
Thanks for joining me………………………………..