Trader Joe's "Two Buck Chuck"

Trader Joe's "Two Buck Chuck" by Mack Male (CC BY-SA)

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A popular photo on Reddit's r/traderjoes forum has many cheap wine lovers upset over the price of the grocery chain's iconic Two Buck Chuck. It shows a shelf of Charles Shaw wine bottles at a Florida Trader Joe's selling for $4.49, a steep increase from its famous $2 price. 

The user who posted the photo blamed inflation as the culprit behind the increase. But, while the wine industry hasn't been immune to the effects of supply chain disruptions and inflation, the wine's price calculations are more complicated. In other words, chances are you don't need to run out to your local Trader Joe's and stock up on Two Buck Chuck before it becomes Eight Buck Chuck.

Unlike other stores' loss leaders — we're looking at you, $1.50 Costco hot dog combo — the price of Two Buck Chuck varies by location due to state and local alcohol laws. As Reddit commenters helpfully point out, $4.49 for a bottle of Chuck seems to be an outlier, with most shoppers reporting that the wine is still selling for about $3 at their locations. 

Some Trader Joe's locations have even lowered the price on Charles Shaw wine recently. One TikTok, posted by a user who works as a "sign artist" at Trader Joe's, shows the $3.49 price being erased on a sign and replaced with $2.99. As recently as January 2020, some locations in California still had $1.99 pricing, at least for a time. 

And let's not forget that Two Buck Chuck generally hasn't been $2 since the company raised its price to $2.49 from $1.99  back in 2013. Considering what inflation has done to the price of everything from gasoline to eggs, a good bottle of wine that's still under $5 seems like a steal.

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