Why is it so hard to find an awesome $10 bottle?

Wine — By KF Louis on March 15, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Pick a random $100 wine at Costco and you are likely to get a very memorable bottle. But if you walk further down the aisle and pick a random bottle in the $10 range, I’ll estimate your chances of finding an outstanding wine to be about 1 in 50. (And Costco is great, BTW. Your odds will be worse at Safeway or Albertson’s.)

Because finding quality wine at $10 is such a crap-shoot, many folks just stop trying after awhile. These are the folks who say, “great cabernets start at $40,” or “there’s no drinkable California pinot noir under $30.”

A telling Valpolicella tasteoff -- the $19 Ripasso (right) was picked number one in the tasting, and favored 3:1 over the $80 Amarone (left).

A telling Valpolicella taste-off -- the $19 Ripasso (right) was picked number one in the tasting, and favored 3:1 over the $80 Amarone (left).

I beg to differ. I believe the world is always awash with wine values, and you just need to devise a strategy to find them.

Having refined my personal wine value hunting skills over the past 20 years, I am able to find outstanding wines in the sub $20 range for practically any varietal, about 85% of the time.

My hope is that this blog will help you do the same.

My Turning Point

Like most people, I started drinking value-priced wines because they were the only ones I could afford. But when I was finally able to purchase the occasional $50 wine, I had many unpleasant experiences. While these higher-end names were fine, I felt that many were no better than the ones I had previously experienced — at half or a quarter of the price.

This is when the bargain hunter in me went mad, and I decided to pour myself into understanding the dynamics of the wine industry so I could make more informed choices.

Today, there are a lot of blogs, books, lists and retailers out there that rate and recommend the value wines du jour. These are the proverbial fish markets. But I haven’t found many resources that teaches people HOW to ‘fish’ for value wines.

It takes 5 minutes to find a great pinot noir for $55 (left). It took me a year to find a comparable wine for $17 (right). But when I did, I bought two cases.

It takes 5 minutes to find a great pinot noir for $55 (left). It took me a year to find a comparable wine for $17 (right). But when I did, I bought two cases.

Like the dozens of friends and colleagues I have taught how to fish over the years, my hope for you is that I can cut your learning down to a tenth of the time it took me, and that you will spend way less money while greatly improving your daily enjoyment of wine to the fullest.

Cheers!

Tags: alignright, value wines, fine, amarone, wine buying, Wine, Costco
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2 Comments

  1. quite easy! because you can not match quality! if you want to have a awsome wine, you have to invest time and manpower for a small quantity. Then quality costs.

  2. KF Louis says:

    Christopher – I agree that you must “invest.” But personally, I realized that if I invested time instead of money, I could eventually game the system so that I could find amazing wine values in the $10-20 range. It took several years but the result is, I cut my wine budget in half and still enjoy world class wines.

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