Wine is a learned taste. <> Wine Color. <> Price vs Quality.
Letting wine breathe? <> Sulfites in wine. <> Wine serving and storage temperatures.
Wine, The Bible and a Mormon. <> The invention of champagne. <> Webmaster's Favorite Wines.

Price versus Quality

It is a commonly held belief that the better the wine, the higher the price will be. This is often true however, as with much else in life, there are exceptions. But, often times, there are wines that are really good, and are priced below what one could be reasonably expected to pay.

Wines prices are grouped into three categories. The lowest cost wines are the "Jug Wine" group. These wines are mass produced using lots of different grapes and are often made from grapes purchaced on the open market. That means, lots of different grape growers, like regular farmers, harvest their crop and send it to market. Real big time wine makers can purchace these grapes from many different grape growers and put them all together to make one brand of wine. They buy grapes in bulk and have massive stainless steel wine making machines that can make tons of wine quickly. The mass producing process is cheap and cuts the cost to the end consumer. In the United States, these wines will have very non specific names such as Burgandy, Chablis, Blush or Rhine. The name doesn't indicate what kind of grapes are used to make the wine but rather, these names indicate the style of wine in the jug. These wines usually aren't aged either. They are on the vine one week and in the store the next. The wine produced in this fashion is usually good but very plain. It is good for use as a comon, everyday table wine. It is also cost effective if you have a lot of people that you need to serve wine to.

The next of the three price categories we'll call the L.P.C. category. This stands for Low priced cork. These wines are better in quality than the jug wines. They are bottled in smaller bottles with corkes instead of screw caps and are named after the grape most predominantly used in making the wine. Whenever a wine is named after the grape it is made from, it is called a "Vareital" wine. By law, wines in the U.S. can not be named after the grape unless at least 75% of the wine is actually made from that grape. Juice from other types of grapes is mixed in the wines to produce different taste characteristics. Using almost exclusively one kind of grape causes the price to go up yet cost is still kept relatively low beacuse there is still a lot of stainless steel, mass producing tecnique that goes into the making of the wine. At this level, little tricks are often used to simulate a higher quality of wine such as soaking hardwood chips in the wine to enhance it's flavor. These wines can also see some aging before they are shipped to the stores.

The third and highest level in the wine price categories is called H.P.C. meaning high priced cork wines. The price for the HPC category starts at the $9.00 to $10.00 area for a 750ml sized bottle. These wines are vareital wines that have all the best qualities. What makes these wines expensive? Quite a number of things. Let's say that the wine is aged in genuine oak barrels. Oak barrels are expensive, so the cost of the wine goes up. Let's say that the grapes are grown in a very expensive piece of real estate which has the best climate for growing them. The cost of the wine will go up for that too. The smaller the region that the grapes come from to make just one wine, the higher the price. Jug wines are cheap and the grapes come from all over the place whereas HPC's come from just a few closely grouped fields in a particular region. Aging is another factor. Aging smothes out the taste of the wine but it costs a lot of money to store the wine for year after year. That makes the cost of the wine go up.

So, what's the purpose of all these different things that make the cost of the wine go up? Taste. A good wine will have a complex variety of different aromas and tastes that you don't find in the cheaper wines. One glass of a really good wine will have the hint of many different fruit tastes and fragerances in the very same glass. These subitle aromas can be similar to pears, cherrys or even pepper. The taste of the wine will be complex as well. Wine aged in oak barrels adds to the taste of the wine and smothes it out. This is a quality that you don't find in stainless steel aged wines. HPC's will also have a very nice texture or feel on your tongue. Some describe this feel as a buttery feel.

High priced cork wines are also hand crafted by master winemakers to make a wine with all these fine qualities. It's a real science that goes into making great wines that most people simply aren't aware of. As I mentioned before, there are wines that should cost more than they are. The best example of this excption to the rule is the wine called "Gallo of Sonoma". They did everything right on that one and the cost is a third of what it should be. Around $10.00 per bottle. Another one of my bargain favorites is Alice White at around $5.00 per bottle.

Ultimately, you should drink what you enjoy the most. Never mind the price, drink what tastes the best to you. That's more important than cost.


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