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Pouring Out Some Two-Buck Chuck
Sad to say that Joe Coulombe, the founder of grocery chain Trader Joe’s, passed away last week aged 89. Without Mr. Coulombe, the following phrases would never have entered my lexicon: cookie butter, rosemary raisin crisps and Two Buck Chuck.
Two Buck Chuck, or Three Buck Chuck as it is in my local store, is their, shall we say, value line of house wine. Vin ordinaire in a Hawaiian shirt. Business Insider reported in this 2017 article how they manage to make a profit selling wine so cheaply. From vineyards located in less pricey areas of California, to fully automated facilities, to oak chips (eep), down to the weight and heft of bottles and shipping boxes, everything is geared to slash costs. The process can be pretty uneven in quality results. I’ve had both pretty great and pretty terrible wines. But for $3, you expected Chateau LeTour?
They also have a slightly pricier “reserve” line, and I’ve always been partial to their petite sirah.
Petite Sirah originated in France but became popular in California. It’s not related to the syrah grape, but its similarities in color and flavor along with the smaller berry size gave it its more popular name. (Sometimes there’s a lot of wine jargon, and sometimes it’s kinda easy.) It’s a common blending grape to add deep color to wines.
This one originates from the Russian River valley in California, very near the famous and beautiful Highway One. With the ocean only miles away, temps are more moderate and breezes give the grapes time to chill out overnight, a great mix for good fruit.
The wine is deep purple, and has an aroma of black fruit. On the palate it’s ripe black raspberry with a bit of cocoa. The finish is quite short, which is really the only tipoff that this is a $10 wine. It’d be perfect with ground lamb burgers.
So thank you, Trader Joe, for bringing decent cheap wine to everyone. RIP, dude.