- Trader Joe’s line of Shaw wines provides wine lovers with an organic option.
- Business Insider’s retail desk recently did a tasting with five Shaw wines.
- Here’s what we thought of Trader Joe’s organic line of wines.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
- And to hear the full story behind Trader Joe’s more well-known Two-Buck Chuck wines, subscribe to Business Insider’s podcast, “Household Name.”
Trader Joe’s is famous for its super cheap Charles Shaw wines, better known as “Two-Buck Chuck.”
But the popular grocery store also stocks an organic option known as Shaw, which sells for the same price of $US3.99.
So how do the two lines of wine compare?
To find out, I ran to a Trader Joe’s wine shop in New York City and picked up five bottles of Shaw. Then I grabbed four colleagues from Business Insider’s retail desk for a quick tasting in one of our office’s conferences rooms last week.
Here’s what we thought of Trader Joe’s organic Shaw wines:
The rosé was bland but stinging.
The rosé was probably the most divisive wine we tried, and ended up ranking last place.
Mostly, we agreed that the taste was inoffensive, if lacking. One taster even described it as the “Russell Crowe of rosés.”
Descriptions of this rosé focused on its “watery” quality and “dominant alcohol note,” with one reviewer describing it more generously as a medium-bodied “grassy and dry” wine with a “sweet aftertaste.”
I personally thought it’d make a good, cheap spritzer wine; you could douse it with some cranberry juice for your next boozy Netflix binge. One of my colleagues added that this would make an excellent “beach drink,” as it’s conducive to “easy chugging.”
With the exception of one holdout, we agreed that this wine is worth its low price, but we were largely divided on whether we’d serve it to friends.
We weren’t sold on the cabernet.
We unanimously concluded that Shaw’s cabernet was worth $US3.99, despite our lukewarm reaction to the wine.
“Not my favourite cab at all,” one taster said. “Honestly not a big fan.”
Adjectives like “woody,” “puckery,” “bitter,” and “watery” were thrown around in the retail section’s reviews of the cab, but all but one person said they’d serve it to friends or bring it to a party.
And the group was split on the pinot noir.
Given how much we enjoyed the Charles Shaw line of red wines, the Shaw reds felt like a bit of a step down.
That being said, reviews were mixed to positive on the organic pinot noir, and all tasters agreed that this bottle was worth the low price. One person speculated they could “get a better cheap red.”
One reviewer concluded that this drink was “definitely a pinot noir, but there’s not much else to be said about it.” Describing the wine as “ok,” another taster wrote that the wine was “nice and fruity” off the bat, but added that it “really dries up your mouth.”
Another colleague added a few descriptors to their review, saying that the pinot noir featured a “savoury first note,” a “bitter, dry mid-note that tapers into a buttery aftertaste,” as well as “grapey,” “cheesy,” and “bready” undertones.
The pinot grigio, however, was an intriguing beverage.
The pinot grigio was hard to nail down, in a good way.
“The flavour changes like three times and is very complex,” one taster wrote, adding that they thought the wine was “really, really nice” despite the fact that they normally don’t enjoy pinot grigio.
Other descriptors that got thrown around were “fruity,” “floral,” and “fresh,” with a “buttery” and “hearty” aftertaste. This Shaw selection also packs a bit of a bite.
One reviewer wrote that the wine tastes “bright to start,” only to devolve into a less appealing “broad mineral” taste, and ended with “a lovely, buttery, vegetable aftertaste.”
Then again, not everyone was a fan, with one taster likening the beverage to “grassy gasoline.”
Four out of five tasters said they’d bring this wine to a party and serve it to friends, and we all concurred that the Shaw pinot grigio is well worth $US3.99.
We were happy with the chardonnay, too.
Most of the Business Insider employees who attended the Shaw tasting confessed to preferring red wine to white.
So we were surprised to find that we largely enjoyed both the pinot grigio and the chardonnay more than the red wines that would follow. The chardonnay, in particular, carried the day, and it was our top pick of the tasting.
Everyone agreed that the chardonnay was worth its price, and all but one holdout said they’d share this beverage with friends.
“It’s a pretty good, down-the-line chard,” one reviewer wrote.
In terms of taste, this wine makes a bold entrance, only to quietly slink off in retreat. One taster called the wine “decent,” albeit “flat at the end”; another agreed that, while the first note “smashes you in the face,” the taste “slowly fades away” the more you sip.
As a group, we picked up “earthy,” “floral,” “sweet,” and “woody” notes, with one reviewer comparing the first note to “sharp cheddar.”
We thought that the Shaw wines outpaced their “two-buck-Chuck” counterparts in several areas.
So how did Shaw compare to its “Two Buck Chuck” counterpart? We picked out a few key differences.
For one, Shaw’s white wines were “far better, but the reds were not as good” as their non-organic rivals. But as a whole, reviewers wrote that the organic wines were “more cohesive” and felt “fancier” than the “Two Buck Chucks,” despite being somewhat “less flavorful.”
“None were undrinkable, and that is a positive in and of itself,” one taster wrote.
And on an aesthetic note, we also enjoyed Shaw’s branding, with one taster describing its bold, sans-serif label as “very nice.”
One reviewer who hadn’t attended our previous Charles Shaw tasting came to a different conclusion.
“The primary note in all of these wines: alcohol. Sure there’s a difference, but in the end you’re not really buying $US4 for the flavour.”
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