Wine can range anywhere from $2 to $5,000 a bottle. The $2 stuff is not for me and I’m pretty sure I’ll NEVER be compelled to spend $5,000 or more. So what gives? Where does one settle for affordable quality? Well, it depends on each person!
Finding a “good” bottle at a “good” price is relative. For one, who and what determines a “good” wine? Second, what determines a “good” price? If you posed those two questions to 100 people, you’d no doubt get 100 different responses, even amongst the most experienced tasters and Masters of Wine. That’s because although there are general agreements about premium quality, there is no one answer by consensus. Ultimately, you, the consumer, dictates quality and pricing based on your tastes and budget.
My sweet spot is $15 a bottle. Over my 20 years of wine consumption, I’ve experienced that spending between between $12-$18 per bottle will get me the consistent quality I enjoy at a price I can afford.
Here is how I landed at $15:
That’s What My Budget Allows. Because I drink wine to study, experiment, learn, and enjoy, I end up consuming A LOT of wine in a given month. Part of the reason I settled at $15 a bottle is because this is the amount I computed I can comfortably spend to satisfy my wine habits without breaking my bank. Whenever I go wine-shopping, I immediately reveal my budget to the wine consultant or sommelier so I don’t waste time looking for wines outside of my budget. Don’t get me wrong- I do often look over at the premium wines displayed in all their glory and have buyer’s envy, but I remind myself that I have to happily stay in my lane!
Expensive wines don’t always taste better. I’ve tasted premium bottles of wine. Many were great, most were good and some were mediocre. I quickly learned that this was a very similar tier as the wines in my price range. When I taste $15 bottles, many are great, most are good and some are mediocre. So if great, good and mediocre wines span all price ranges, it didn’t make financial sense for me to regularly purchase from the premium category. Statistically speaking, the odds of me finding a bottle I love are high at the $15 range. So that where I park!
Many fantastic wines are under-priced. I find the best deals in the $15 range for a couple reasons. For one, stores often slash wine prices to move product or get ready for new vintages. Finding an aged bottle at a lower price than the others is a double win for me! Second, there are many excellent wine producers that could compete with premium wines and perhaps even be graded higher, but have to sell their wines at lower price-points. This could be due to zoning laws, classification mishaps, or simply because people don’t recognize the label. I can remember several years back when one of the top-rated wines in the world was hiding at Walmart and severely under-priced until someone discovered its magic. Check the $15 shelf for undiscovered gems and the next best thing!
Big Brands often have higher profit-margins. When you spend $100 on a bottle of bubbly, do you know if the price is due to the quality, or the profit margins of the producer? In other words, many high prices are determined by status and name recognition, not quality. When I learned that many of the higher quality wines come from smaller, unrecognized producers, that’s all I needed to know to seal the deal. I don’t care how many followers a brand has, I just want quality wine. I’d rather line my palate with delicious wine than line the pocket of some of these big brands selling expensive, yet mediocre wine.
Perhaps one day I’ll b able to regularly spend $50-$100 on a bottle, but I’m not convinced that that is necessary. So I think I’ll stay at my $15 sweet spot for a while!
Whats your budget? Comment and share!
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