Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Is there any reason a $7 wine is better than a $2.50 wine?
Aaron was curious about Three Wishes, the $2.50 wine at Whole Foods, as well as Charles Shaw, better known as $2.50 Chuck. Why are they so cheap?
Well, I told him, they're made from mechanically farmed and harvested grapes from productive, reliably warm areas like the San Joaquin Valley. The grapes are rarely touched by human hands because, next to land costs, labor is the biggest expense in making supermarket wine.
Isn't that also true for $7 wines?
What do you get for your extra $4.50? A heavier bottle, a nicer label, and a bigger marketing budget. But do you get a better wine?
I used to do a newspaper Bargain Wines column for which I tasted scores of wines under $10. The overwhelming majority of wines I recommended cost right about $10; occasionally $9. Rarely did I recommend a $7 wine. It's only a $2 jump. But it's a big one.
So I put Aaron's question to you, dear readers: Is there any reason a $7 wine is better than a $2.50 wine?
UPDATE: I got this answer on Twitter from Jeff Siegel, aka The Wine Curmudgeon, author of "The Wine Curmudgeon's Guide to Cheap Wine:"
The cost of the glass and cork might take up as much as 70% of the production cost of the $2.50 wine, leaving little leeway for grapes. Bronco Wine Co., which makes $2.50 Chuck, owns its own grapes, so that gives it an advantage over The Wine Group, which makes Three Wishes. Either way, Jeff says a $7 bottle cost gives producers leeway to acquire better grapes, or perhaps more accurately, grapes that aren't as bad.
Posted by W. Blake Gray at 6:00 AM