Does the cost of a wine determine quality?

I, like many people, always thought that because a bottle costs more that it must be a great bottle of wine. This has got to be one of the biggest misconceptions around. Many people that ask for wine recommendations, often make “the face” when I show them a reasonably priced wine that has rated well. After many situations and reactions of customers it made me come to wonder what really determines the cost of the wine. After my research, I found some interesting facts.

Many factors are involved in determining the cost of a wine. Everything from quantity produced to location are just a few characteristics that determine price.

Quantity- The quantity of wine is one factor that determines cost. If the vineyard made 20,000 cases as compared to 200 cases then most likely you will pay more for the wine that there is less of.

Single Vineyard- Single Vineyard is a term used for wines that are produced from a single vineyard and usually is associated with the signature style of the vineyard. Some wines are blends of different vintages or grapes from different regions which lower their value as compared to a single vineyard.

Location- Sometimes if a wine comes from a certain area that is known for producing really good wine, then it would influence price. For a good example I will use Napa Valley. Napa Valley is known for exceptional wines and many people will buy a wine based on the location where the wine was produced alone.

Estate Wines- Estate bottled wines are wineries that grow and produce their wine all in one location. Not to be confused with single vineyard, estate bottled wines are all grown, picked, and produced in one winery where single vineyard wines could acquire their grapes from a region outside the winery.

Vintage- The vintage is the year the wine was produced. Sometimes good climate and good weather that isn’t too hot or too cold could make for a great year or great vintage. The vintages are rated as well by all the wine publications and they have vintage charts available for viewing. For an example in 2007, Napa and most of California had great climate and weather and so that year made for a good vintage.

Production Costs- Sometimes manual picking of the grapes as compared to machine picking grapes can factor costs. Some vineyards that have hills or rough terrain may need to manual pick their grapes and so their production costs are higher.

Wine Store- Another factor is where you buy your wine. Some stores mark their wine up to make a profit. Sometime a bigger wine shop has the available space to purchase quantity discounted wine and in turn can offer a lower price to the public.

These are just a few factors involved but has no relation to whether or not the wine is good. There are many lower priced wines that are equal if not better than high priced wines. Word of mouth is usually the best way to decide what wine you should choose. Most likely if many customers are constantly purchasing a certain wine, then most likely that wine will be good and price has nothing to do with that.

Further reading: What makes a wine a "best-seller"?

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