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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How to overpay for wine

Wine comes in all price ranges and that's nice as there is something for every budget (some wine geeks forget not everyone can, or is willing to, spend fifty bucks for a bottle). Plus there's something for every occasion (maybe you don't want to share that seventy-five dollar Cab with your mother-in-law who prefers Pinot Grigio).

When you get into the moderate-to-expensive range of wines, lets say over twenty-five dollars, there are ways to insure you are spending more than you need.

Fancy labels

It is, of course, obvious that rich-looking labels and other fancy packaging has no impact on what's inside, but in the emotion of buying you forget that. How do you think Mercedes sells cars? Buying a wine that is packaged like a Mercedes could mean you've spent a lot more than necessary if a Ford could have worked just as well.

Fancy growing regions

Napa?  + $xx   Bordeaux?  + $xx or even $xxx
This doesn't mean you should not buy a Napa Valley wine. It just means don't buy just because it's a Napa Valley wine because it'll cost you extra to get that on the label. Bordeaux or Napa on a label has "snob appeal" compared to Lodi or Yakima Valley, for example.

Fancy wineries

Often small wineries or just small production wines cost more only because there isn't much of them around (supply-and-demand). You want a Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay or a Korbel Brut? They're everywhere!  You want a cult wine from some guy in California that makes only 200 cases a year then it'll cost you. This doesn't mean the small production wines aren't worth their cost, but it doesn't mean these wines are automatically better just because there's less of them.

Medals and points

This is the thing you'll see on the "shelf talkers" to sell a wine, "So-and-so gave this wine 92 points!" First off, one good rating doesn't mean much. Just like movie ratings where it's best to get a consensus of the critics; it's the same with wine. One gold medal or one 90+ point rating doesn't mean the wine isn't worth the price, but look for multiple good scores or medals on a wine. And be sure it's for the same vintage year and appellation. It's not unheard of for someone to promote a 2012 Sonoma County Chardonnay when it was the 2011 Russian River one that won all the medals.


I didn't say wines meeting any of these characteristics are not worth the price. Just saying not to buy one just because it meets one of these criteria.