Can you tell the difference between a bottle of wine that is $10 and one that is $60? For some people, it is a resounding ‘yes’ but for many more, it’s ‘no’. There is definitely something to be said for enjoying a decadent drop of wine eminence, but also finding wine that you adore at an affordable price, definitely has its benefits. Read on to discover the best ways to find low cost, good wine, and how to choose wisely if you’re planning to splurge.
If you have ever seen the documentary, SOMM, you’ll know that people at the highest echelons of the wine trade have an ability to identify and classify wine to a level most of us wouldn’t even dream was possible. (If you’re into wine and you haven’t seen it, you can check it out on Netflix).
However, to the everyday person who likes, or even simply loves vino, separating the good stuff from the great stuff based on taste alone is more hit and miss. Besides taste, other elements – like label, price and colour - can cloud our judgement.
Much research has proven how we can be mistakenly influenced by these factors – including a study conducted at Hertfordshire University, where people blind-tasted a large range of inexpensive and expensive wines and could only tell the difference half the time.
The other thing that affects our judgement as to the level of quality, is the personal experience we associate with the wine. You could be enjoying a rose on the balcony of a nice hotel on the first night of your holiday or celebrating with a sparkling white at a birthday party, and you will be more inclined to savour the taste. Beyond the social aspect of the experience, if you’re indulging in anything you can’t realistically afford, you are more likely to mar – rather than mark – the occasion.
By all means, if you can afford to treat yourself to Henske’s Hill of Grace or Clarendon Hills Astralis, go for it. However, for most of us, going to the luxury end of wine tasting isn’t really an option every single time we open a bottle.
But the good news is, it is entirely possible to find low priced wine that is delicious.
• What you consider cheap or expensive is relative. Some people may consider $25 way beyond affordability and others might consider it standard. Either way, it has just as much chance of tasting high-end as it does average.
• Focus on reputable regions; examples of those renowned for well-priced options are New Zealand (sauvignon blanc), Australia (riesling and shiraz).
• If you are drinking a particularly bargain drop, swirl it before you drink it (for a few minutes if need be) to improve the taste and lessen the hangover. The oxygen softens and brings out the flavours.
• Chill the cheap white to the point of almost-frozen. It will soften the flavours.
• Join wine clubs and buy wines by the case. This is a great way to get discounts, discover variety and access top quality wines at much lower costs.
All that said, if you’re in the mood to splash some cash, by all means do so, but choose wisely. There is a difference between enjoying the best and getting fleeced.
Here are some guidelines to go by for worthy high-end purchases:
• Consider star-performers from small, independent winemakers. Sometimes high-priced wines are that way due to money spent on advertising, design and facilities.
• Food pairing is important. If you will be consuming it with a meal, the right choice can bring out flavours and textures that will elevate the experience.
• Ignore the label. It has no bearing on quality.
• Ask an expert for a recommendation.
More important than anything else; drink to enjoy the wine. Take your time to savour the taste and pay attention to the flavours you can identify, what you like most and what you would rather steer away from in the future. Regardless of the price, if you like it, ten bucks worth can feel like a million bucks worth.
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Nitesh Bhatia is the CEO and founder of Australian online wine retailer, Just Wines. Since its launch in 2014, the company has become the second biggest wine retailer in Australia, offering 6,000 products from over 1,000 Australian and New Zealand winemakers. Find out more on Facebook.