The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Wine Report: Whole Foods sells a better Two-Buck Chuck

UPDATE: A commenter has me thinking that Three Wishes may be produced by...the same people who make the Chuck (The Bronco Wine Company)! A bit of an interesting "conspiracy" in the ultra-cheap wine world? It would create an interesting wrinkle in Whole Foods' "chuck the Chuck" argument. I'll see what I can learn...

A little more than a month ago, Whole Foods rolled out an alternative to Trader Joe's "Two Buck Chuck," the lineup of $1.99 Charles Shaw wines that have been wildly successful for the retailer. Whole Foods isn't kidding around: "chuck the Chuck" is its sales pitch.

I've always believed that Two-Buck Chuck is among the most imporant wines every introduced. The wines aren't very good. But they have made it possible for people to load up on wine and drink it more frequently. Brilliant. Plus, the brand has become an institution and eliminated much of an anxiety that wine seems to induce. It comes in a premium-type wine bottle and it has a cork. It's not a jug wine. It's not a box wine. It's not rotgut.

Whole Foods' version is called "Three Wishes." And there are three types: Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I've sampled all three. I like 'em. Better, in fact, than Fresh and Easy's version of the Chuck, a Spanish import called "The Big Kahuna." 

Brian Foehl of SF Weekly doesn't agree with me. At all. Slashfood's Kristine Hansen says they're OK. Regardless, Three Wishes advances the ultra-cheap wine argument. Ultimately, it's a marketing effort, but a better marketing effort than the Chuck. Prettier label, more prestigious sales outlet. Three Wishes just looks...superior when witnessed in the proximity of Whole Foods' rather classy, if not especially daunting, wine lineup.

But look, intangibles aside, you can get six bottles for less than $15. An excellent deal for the holidays, and if you like to have a simple, tasty vino around for, you know, emergencies, this could be your brand.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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