The third, almost annual, $3 wine challenge

 $3 wine challengeWish me luck – it’s time for the third $3 wine challenge

Each night this week, I’ll drink a $3 wine with dinner and attempt to answer the question: Can a wine drinker live on really cheap wine? Or are the ultra-cheap wines just cheap, without any redeeming enological value?

This year, it will be two sauvignon blancs, a pinot grigio, and two pinot grigio-colombard blends. I wanted to review five sauvignon blancs, but several retailers stopped carrying sauvignon blanc, so we’re making do just like an ordinary consumer.

The previous challenges were chardonnay in 2014 and merlot in 2013. So far, most of the wines haven’t been worth drinking, which is one reason I didn’t do the challenge the past couple of years. What’s the point if the results are so depressing?

But once more into the breach, if only because so many blog visitors have asked me to take glass in hand one more time. The lineup this year (and the wines were purchased in Dallas):

Two-buck Chuck sauvignon blanc ($2.99, 12.5%), the Trader Joe’s private label that was the first and remains the most famous of the very cheap wines. It’s a California appellation from the 2015 vintage, and made for Trader Joe’s by Bronco Wine.

Three Wishes pinot grigio-colombard ($2.99, 12.5%), the Whole Foods private label. It carries an American appellation, which means it’s non-vintage and at least three-quarters of the grapes used to make it were grown anywhere in the U.S. It’s made by the multi-national The Wine Group, which is best known for Cupcake.

Winking Owl pinot grigio ($2.89, 11.5%) from Aldi (but may be available elsewhere). It’s a California appellation and non-vintage, so 75 percent of the grapes came from California but from different harvests. It’s made by E&J Gallo, the largest wine producer in the world.

Oak Leaf sauvignon blanc ($2.97, 12.5%), the Walmart private label. Made by The Wine Group, American, and non-vintage.

Bay Bridge pinot grigio-colombard ($2.99, 12.5%), the Kroger private label. It’s American and non-vintage, made by The Wine Group.

Again this year, none of these wines have a screwcap, which is stupid. Why would anyone want to pay more for the tool that opens the wine than the wine itself?

3 thoughts on “The third, almost annual, $3 wine challenge

  • By Ohiogirl - Reply

    I feel your pain.

    I started out in Ohio with way high state taxes on wine. As a young person (then!) it was plonk or nothing. It’s better in CA, where I now live, but high quality wine for free delivered by fairies is still not a daily occurrence, much as I would like it be. Drat!

    I enjoy the extra sales at Ralphs/Kroger, the buy 6 get 30% off does give you some nice deals.

    However my new fav in California is Grocery Outlet. Not every wine there is good. Some are old and icky. But every now and then you buy a bottle of wine there that makes you go back and buy a case. Or two. And I got an evil thrill when a wine I picked up there for $4 was a featured at a local wine shops few months later, as a “find!” for over $10.

    So keep up the good work and reporting. Nice wine for less does make a difference in our day to day lives : )

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      So far, the wines have been painful. But I will persevere.

      • By Ohiogirl - Reply

        Yikes. Um. it will all get better soon. Cuz soon you’ll be done! And reporting. And helping us all : )

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