The perception is that wines must be expensive in order to be good. However, that is not necessarily the case. I spend much of my time seeking out the diamonds in the rough, those wines that are good but not expensive. Finding such wines is not as difficult as you might think.
There are lots of good wines in about every price point, whether you are comfortable spending $1,000, $100 or $17 there are good wines waiting to be discovered.
Personally, I tend to stay away from wines produced en masse and instead, seek out ones produced in lower quantities by estate wineries. The reason for this is large wineries often purchase grapes from a variety of grape growers, often resulting in varying quality in the grapes and as a result, in the taste of the wine.
Small estate wineries tend to grow their own grapes and if they do need to supplement their inventory with purchased grapes, those grapes are selectively chosen. This helps to ensure a consistent quality in the wines they produce.
So if there are good inexpensive wines available for as little as $17, why are there such variations in price point, with some ones fetching thousands of dollars? There are business and economic factors, such as the fixed production costs, packaging, shipping, and duties on imported wines.
Climate factors can have an influence, whether the growing season was particularly hot, cold, wet, or dry.
However, the wines with the highest prices are often those produced by prestigious wineries or vintners; rare vintages; those produced from exceptionally old or historic vines; or those wines consisting of varietals that are not in abundant supply.
So to find wines you will enjoy start by searching within the price point you are comfortable with. Next, the taste of a wine will be influenced by the varietal or blends the wine is composed of; so if you know which types of grapes you enjoy, search for those. Another variable is the geographical area in which the grapes were grown; generally the hotter the climate the more intense the flavour.
Information will often be provided by the seller. Look for information in brochures, catalogues, or stock cards that may be available in the store or on the merchant’s web site.
The wine bottle itself may reveal helpful information. Don’t forget to look at the label on the back of the bottle, as well as the one on the front.
Finally, many wineries have their own web site which may provide detailed information pertaining to the various wines they produce, including such information as the varietal(s) contained, how the wine was aged, tannin content, acid levels, etc., all of which impact the flavour.
The impacts of varietals and geographical regions on the taste of wine will be discussed in an upcoming article.