Last night I uncorked a bottle of two-buck chuck Merlot at the request of a thirsty reader. I found the wine to be solid and drinkable. It definitely tasted like a Merlot, with a good round fruity body. However, it suffered from a similar taste I’ve found in other cheap wines, especially other Charles Shaw wines: namely that sweet, pungeant, grassy taste that reminds me of mowing the lawn. Useful for reminiscing about summers gone by, I suppose, but that’s not really a reason I drink red wine.
Overall, the Merlot was good and my palatte wasn’t overwhelmed by the acidic overtones. I drink a hell of a lot of black coffee though, so those with less of a taste for acid might not tolerate it. Still, I would add the Merlot to the list of surpisingly good two-buck-chuck varietals, along with the Shiraz and the Cab.
I’ve always thought that $10-20 is the perfect price point for store-bought wine. Any higher and I’ll want to save it for a special occaison (and I’ll forget about the wine when such an occaison comes). Any less than $10 and the wine quality is a gamble: either it’s a syrupy concoction of grassy fruit and sugar, or it’s a wonderful $5 diamond in the rough, and I’ll never be able to find another bottle.
That’s why I’ve always hoped to find a really great two-buck-chuck: I can remember where I bought the wine and the brand isn’t going to vanish off the shelves suddenly. But the Charles Shaw wines I’ve had previously haven’t been all that rewarding. Impressive, certainly, for a $3 bottle of wine and better than you’d think, but nothing earthshaking. Of the other varietals I’ve drunk, the Shiraz was the best. You can read the previous reviews here: Nouveau, Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Cabernet.