There’s an oft-considered but little heeded piece of advice among wine lovers that never really gets through to the real wine snobs out there today. Its a secret that plenty of people just don’t want you to know, because, as usual, it would cost money. The secret is that wine really only gets so good, and then you surpass the point at which you’re paying for a fancy label and a name. Expensive wine is very often no better to taste than mid-range, or even cheap wine. Whether by willful ignorance or by virtue of wanting to sound impressive, wine geeks will often go straight to the most expensive bottle on the menu, thinking that because it costs more, it should also taste better.
Chances are good that you’ve heard this argument before, and though you probably laughed it off and said to yourself, “Well of course, I could have told you that!” Think about the last time you bought wine, though- did you really look at the bottom shelf? If you were buying a bottle for a dinner party, you probably didn’t want to look like a cheapskate, so you likely shopped the upper shelves, even though a higher rated wine might just save you $10.
Marketers do this stuff on purpose, you know. Just as a “for instance,” Take the 2015 Consumer Wine Awards. One of the top wines was “3 Girls Cabernet,” which garnered a gold medal and “Best in Class” Cabernet Sauvignon award, with an MSRP of $14. By contrast, Ca’ Momi, a Napa Valley wine, costs $26, and only managed a silver medal in judging. It certainly wouldn’t be a terrible tasting wine, especially to a neophyte wine drinker, but with a $12 difference in price between the top rated wine and the most expensive wine, it just doesn’t make much sense to go with the more expensive wine.
So, why do marketers do this? Simply put, it’s because it works. With auto parts, we know that price often increases as quality goes up. The same is true with clothes and shoes. Sometimes, food works the same way. Wine, though, doesn’t. A $200 bottle of french wine might be a feast for the eyes and the senses, but it may pack the same taste punch as a bottle of $5 wine from your local gas station. The price tag doesn’t make it taste any better, but the truth is that our perception of what that wine should taste like does color how we enjoy it. The world that we live in is all too interested in the material value of goods, as they are judged by the people who produce them. Much more important to you should be the question of what’s it worth to you? Is that sip of wine really worth $100 to you?