What does price say about wine?

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Image:  Heidi Butzine

Just as preference in wines apply to tastes, the same is true for how much you’re willing to spend on wine.  There is no reason to dismiss wines that are $10 or even less and there is no reason why you’ve got to love a wine that you’ve spent $75 on.  It all depends on whether you like the wine and it is within your budget.

In a recent study, scientists discovered that people actually had increased pleasurable sensations for wines that cost more.  They not only thought they tasted better, but they actually experienced more pleasure.  The best way to test this is to try a blind tasting with your friends, not letting them know what was paid for the wines and covering the labels.  They will likely not be able to tell anything about price either by the unscrewing the cap or popping the cork to open the bottle.  You will be surprised at which wines are liked and seeing that it has nothing to do with price.  In fact, not knowing the price may help you experience the wine for what it is without interruption by knowing the price range which could affect your perception.

A classic example that I have tried at tastings with friends and family is the “two-buck Chuck” wine from Trader Joe’s.  Everyone absolutely loves this Chardonnay and often prefers it over the more expensive $40 bottle of Chardonnay from the best Napa Valley winery.  These are both good wines but it goes to show that price doesn’t always matter.

If you are bringing wine to someone, the most expensive wine is not necessarily the best.  If the audience doesn’t realize the wine is expensive, they won’t enjoy it as much as an audience familiar with the reputation of the wine.

This applies to nearly everyone.  It is, of course, very rude to mention the price of a wine you brought as a present.  As long as it’s a good wine, they will probably enjoy it just as much if it costs you $10 or if it costs $40.

Keep in mind that price is based on several factors that go into getting wine from the vines to the restaurant or store.   You are paying for the overall cost of producing the wine and expense involved in distribution with a retailer’s markup.  You will also be paying for the brand marketing and quite honestly whatever the market will bear for a wine that has a legacy or long-standing reputation for popular wines and can ask for more of a premium for their wines.  Depending on the wine maker’s business goals, the prices of wines will vary widely depending on whether they are an exclusive, highly-demanded boutique wine with limited distribution or a wine that is mass marketed for high volume sales, allowing them to price their wines at more moderate prices.  Not only does the wine producer have a part in this, but the retailer and distribution channels also add to the cost of the wine in order to make a profit in getting the wine to your table.

Does that mean expensive wines are never worth the price?  Well, you always know how much you paid for a wine.  If you keep an open mind and not get locked up on prices, you can enjoy an expensive wine just as you would a lower cost wine.  You just have to weigh whether the enjoyment is worth the money spent.

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