Back in 2001, I studied Tour Management with the International Tour Management Institute (ITMI) in Los Angeles, California.  There, I was introduced to a new world of beverage choices.  In the world of coffee there was Starbucks.  Yes, in 2001 Starbucks had not yet made it to my home city of Evansville, Indiana.  Although I was not a big coffee drinker at the time, I discovered the Mocha.  Coffee, chocolate, whipped cream……yes, please!   Since that time, I have become much more of a coffee drinker and still love my Starbucks coffees.  Today my “go to” drink is the Skinny Vanilla Latte, unless they have the holiday flavors.  My seasonal favorite is the Chestnut Praline Latte!

Another phenomenon was a grocery store called Trader Joe’s, which still doesn’t have a location in Evansville, Indiana.  Trader Joe’s was and is famous for its bargain-priced wine, affectionately known as “Two Buck Chuck.”  The nickname came about because the wine came from the California vineyard of Charles Shaw and was priced at that time at $1.99 per bottle.  What you will find in stores will vary at any given time, but you may find Charles Shaw Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and White Zinfandel. Two buck Chuck is still available, but I understand the price can now range from the original $1.99 up to around $3.99 per bottle.  Still a bargain for a nice drinkable wine.

Here locally we have our own bargain wines at various big box stores and even pharmacies, but my favorite budget wine is Winking Owl available at Aldi’s.  Winking Owl is one of the family of wines from E & J Gallo in California.  I have tried a few of their varietals, which include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, White Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Moscato.  We originally just purchased them for cooking wine, but then found some of them to be particularly good and the price tag locally is $2.49 per bottle.  There is an advantage to sampling the bargain-priced wines.  Even if you don’t like the wine you chose, you didn’t spend a lot of money and you can still use it for cooking or to make a nice Sangria.

So, go out there and experience some new wines to discover more about your tastes, it can be fun AND affordable.  Cheers!

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