Cheap Wine Vs. Expensive Wine. Which is better?

Cheap Wine Vs. Expensive Wine. Which is better?

Jamie ArkingJanuary 24, 2018

Cheap Wine Vs. Expensive Wine


By Jimmy Quaile, Certified Sommelier

Wine is a commodity. In economics, a commodity is defined as an item produced to satisfy consumer’s wants or needs. So my short answer to explain why some wine is cheap and some expensive is supply and demand. There are, however, many costs that go into making that wine good enough to command the price no matter how high or low, the first being where the grapes are grown. Trial and error over thousands of years have taught us where certain grapes grow best. Basically, a wine that simply states “California” on the label is cheaper than one from a more specific region because the broader labeled wine can be made using grapes grown anywhere in the state. The more specific, the less there is, the more money it costs. (An acre of land in Napa can cost nearly 500 thousand dollars, and that’s before a single grape is grown.) The next cost is the type of oak used and the time the juice spends in it! That can add 2 to 4 dollars to the price of the bottle…and by the way, the bottle itself can add 1 to 3 dollars. Add the cost of labor, the cork, the packaging and finally it’s taste that counts, right? Not necessarily. What score did it get? And who gave it that score? That may not matter to you, but it does impact the price on the shelf. Ok ok, it does eventually come down to taste. I can give you a very good tasting “value” wine and a very bad tasting “super premium” wine, but you can rest assured that the majority of wines that command higher prices are on average better “made”. That is NOT to say they are better wines. Your taste preference is the only one that matters. The good news is we are living in the golden age of wine. Advances in viticulture are the reason. A $15 bottle today is,in my opinion, better than a bottle costing three times that price just twenty years ago. Wine is so much more than simply the sum total in the glass. Put yourself in the perfect place with the people you most love and, whatever the cost of the bottle, the wine is priceless.