Wine Life

Expensive Wine vs. Cheap Wine

Despite the fact that my job is wine & I spend nearly my entire day immersed in it (one way or another) – I still find myself a complete (or nearly) novice. It’s honestly one of the things I love most about the wine industry. There is always something more to learn.

That aside, I’m willing to bet we all feel this way from time to time. Wearing a novice hat that is. So I started thinking about what were my most pressing questions when I first became interested in furthering my knowledge of wine.

One that always seemed to poke at me would be when I was walking through any lovely, dreamy wine aisle looking for my partner in crime for the night – the price ranges always struck me as overwhelming and confusing. My practical brain just always led me to the middle shelves – not top shelf, but not wastefully cheap.

I knew – obviously – there was more to it than that & I should check that out.

Here’s what I know now:

*Quality does matter, however, it’s not as big of a factor as you’d think. And it definitely isn’t a black & white science.

*A big factor is the “why” of the wine. Is it made as a commercial product to push? Or is it made as an art? This definitely plays a part in how the production process of each category differs.

*Supply and demand play a significant part in price. It goes hand-in-hand with the “why” of the wine. If something is plentiful & easily accessible to us in mass quantities, it’s fairly safe to assume it comes at a cheaper price to us as consumers.

*Back to production, a few things here:  

— If oak barrels are used in the aging process, the wine is probably going to be more expensive. Those things are NOT cheap.

— If the vineyard produces premium grapes, chances are they will not only be hand pruned, but they will also be hand harvested. That means labor and time are going to be higher factors in the process of getting those grapes onto our tables in liquid form.

(Side note: this is a process to not be taken lightly. I’ve helped my dad for years at his small vineyard and it’s laborious. Okay… I lied. I helped the first two years and I realized it was WAY more hard work than I’m cut out for, so now I just hang out, drink the wine, and make the other people, who are working their butts, off laugh. Basically I’m the vineyard jester.)

*Cheap wine comes from fertile soil. More expensive wine comes from grapes that are grown on rocky, more challenging terrains. Generally. This is because the more fertile the soil, the more water that fills the grapes. Rougher terrain = grapes that retain their flavor. Grapes don’t need to be hydrated like humans apparently.

*Finally, it’s still a commercial market so the price is going to be affected by how the wine is sold & how many stops it takes between the vineyard and your home. If it’s sold direct, the price will be better than if it’s sold through a retailer for example.

Bonus. Which was something that was puzzling me. What if you have a wine that has the same score, but one is cheap and one is expensive? Turns out, most wine is reviewed and scored by peer group – meaning from the same parts of the world.

So. There you have it.

Hopefully that gives you a bit more wine knowledge to put in your bank.

If you have any specific wonderings about wine, let me know!!

Or if you have anything to add.

I told you before – I adore learning more.

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