Simply put, millennials love wine.
And given that generation’s unprecedented level of debt amid stagnant wages, cheap wine is often the drink of choice — but herein lies the rub. Finding cheap wine that’s also good can be daunting. I won’t begrudge anyone an occasional bottle of Barefoot or Yellowtail — we’ve all been there — but there are better options out there that still won’t break the bank.
Target recently launched the California Roots line of wines, which goes for $ 5 a bottle and seems to aim for the current holder of the cheap-and-good wine crown, Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw Blend label. Often called “Two Buck Chuck” (despite the current price of $ 2.99 in most markets), it’s the go-to cheap wine of those in the know.
We put the two labels to the test, and overall, the options from Trader Joe’s seemed to outperform Target’s wines. However, as with anything, it isn’t that simple. Despite Trader Joe’s oenological offerings winning most comparisons, the best wine of the bunch was a complete surprise.
Target’s California Roots cabernet has a delightfully smooth and silky mouthfeel that languishes on the tongue. It’s full-bodied and has a satisfying consistency — especially when compared to Charles Shaw’s rather lanky and watery cab.
It’s a juicy, big wine with pretty clear and strident notes of cherries and currants amid hints of tobacco and oak. Dark berries abound in each sip, which plays well against the firm tannin-induced pucker.
The de rigueur pairing for such a berry-forward cabernet would be a lean cut of lamb, like braised shanks or something similar. Steak also pairs well — really any hearty red meat dish complements the firm structure of a cabernet like this one. The smoothness of the wine works well with rich meats and herbs that pick up on its slightly earthy background.
The other wines by Trader Joe’s tended to trounce Target’s, but the Charles Shaw cabernet was emaciated and hot — a heavy alcohol scent and taste came to the forefront, and the tannins proved astringent and unpleasantly tart. Out of the lot, Target’s cabernet beats the rest — and at $ 5, it’s definitely worth trying.