Sporkable Merlot

I have had several requests to do a comparison on really cheap wines…like the stuff that is under $3 that is sort of the “store” brand.

This will be a 3 part post, because frankly, I can’t drink that much wine in one sitting. I’m comparing 3 varietals from 4 stores.

The varietals are: Merlot, Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon. All are from vineyards in California.

The stores/wine brands are: Trader Joes/Charles Shaw aka “2 Buck Chuck”, Whole Foods/Three Wishes, Aldi/Winking Owl, & Wal-Mart/Oak Leaf.

The Merlot was the first I tried.

Charles Shaw, 12.5% alc, grapes from Napa/Sonoma.

Smell: twig, dark berry, with a little licorice.

Taste: strawberry, vanilla & it burned a little going down. I got immediate heartburn.

Three Wishes, 13% alc, grapes from Ripon/Livermore.

Smell: leather, dirt, plum

Taste: mixed berry, vanilla, licorice. Round mouth feel.

Winking Owl, 13% alc, grapes from Ripon/Livermore.

Smell: light forest floor, strawberry

Taste: vanilla, strawberry. Smooth but forgettable

Oak Leaf, 13% alc, grapes from Ripon/Livermore.

Smell: funky petrol, strawberry

Taste: light strawberry, dirt. It was like drinking colored water with flavor chips.

Overall, none of these thrilled me. However, as the Charles Shaw & Three Wishes began to settle, I noticed that they began to sort of taste alike. They became more candied fruit. The only difference was the alcohol level. The Charles Shaw was a little lighter because of the lower alc. level and Three Wishes was a little more plush because of the higher alc. level. Both wines also need food to go with them. McDonald’s chicken nuggets are a good choice and I liked the wine better. As for the pork skins…all of the wines covered up their light porky goodness.

As a “bonus” I had a 2003 Charles Shaw Merlot from my Mom-in-Law. She has been a Trader Joes shopper for a long time, but I have no idea why she still had this bottle…perhaps she didn’t like it either back in 2003 😉

Anyway, I kind of found it interesting that the old Charles Shaw bottle was taller and the grapes were only sourced & cellared from Sonoma.

I knew that this experiment was going to be unpleasant because cheaply made wines are not meant to age lovingly in your wine cellar. As soon as I opened the bottle I smelled a barnyard and the taste was like band-aids…it didn’t disappoint! See what I do for my Twisted Peeps!

My next installment will be Chardonnay from these same stores. I hope they are better.

Cheers & I’m going to brush my teeth now.


2 thoughts on “Sporkable Merlot

  1. Lori, you deserve a medal. This takes me waaaay back. In my party time youth, we used to buy the cheapest jug wine, (Red Mountain burgundy comes to mind, 1.99/gal.) some rum from Tijuana, Bacardi in a 2 liter jug for 6 bucks and a couple of quarts of 7-up. All in a bucket with a bag of ice. We called it spooly and it did the trick. I’ve tried the Shaw and Forest Leaf. They are ok for marinades and splashing in spaghetti sauce. Not much else. Good luck with the rest.
    The Becks.


    • I agree about these wines are only good for cooking. In fact I offered 2 bottles to my neighbor because he is an avid Griller and I kept 2 for myself to add to spaghetti.


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