We’ve all seen a bottle of wine on the menu and the price has made us ask, can it really be worth it? Is a $100 bottle of wine really twenty times higher quality than the $5 bottle? Here we will explore the differences between cheap and expensive wine, and how much these factors matter.
What Makes Wine Expensive?
The main influences on how expensive wine is are terroir, time and oak. You will find that price is not a set rule on wine quality, and it is possible to buy cheap wine of a great standard, and expensive wine that is not so impressive.
Terroir is a French expression that can be used to list the environmental aspects that affect a crop. Essentially it refers to the quality of the vineyard.
In order to produce a great quality grape, a winery will try to actually produce fewer grapes, so that the ones that remain have a stronger flavor. The geographical location also affects the grapes, with the general rule being that the harder it is for the grapes to grow, the tastier they will be.
The scarcer and more specific the terroir, the higher the price, generally speaking. Soa generic French wine may be $10, a Rhone Valley may be $15, and a Ventoux (a specific region of Rhone Valley) may be $30 or more.
When wines are left for a time, the fruity flavor will be boosted, and the tannin and acidity will be less strong. This means a well-aged red wine will have a more subtle and appealing taste compared to a younger one. This rounder and smoother taste is sought after, and so leaving the wine for time increases its value.
Leaving wines in their bottles for years can take up a huge amount of space, which will cost the vineyard and therefore the end user. Generally, aging will add around $1 a year.
The most expensive and sought after wines of the world will be aged in oak. Leaving the wine to sit in an oak barrel adds fantastic flavors to wine, such as clove or nutmeg. There is a wide variety of flavors that can be added to wine from oak, and the result depends on the quality of the oak barrel, and the type of wine.
Another benefit of putting the wine into an oak barrel is that it allows the liquid to be exposed to oxygen, which lowers the intensity of the tannins, improving the taste and texture.
However, oak is not cheap, and these barrels must then be stored somewhere at cost. What’s more, along with oxygen seeping in, some wine will also evaporate out, concentrating the end result.
The Bottom Line
Do not despair if you are searching for affordable red wine, or wondering what the best cheap white wine is. While these factors laid out show why some wine is expensive, it does not take away from the quality of the cheap wines. It is true that you will not find an ancient oak-aged wine for cheap, but you could certainly find one from a pleasing year and unknown location that is delicious. Often it is status that raises the price of wines, meaning a great quality but little known wine will be moderately priced.
Many cheap wine clubs online offer affordable sections, money-saving deals and other ways to ensure that you are enjoying quality wine without breaking the bank. Try them out and potentially save money in the process.