It's fairly known at most supermarkets and stores you can get regular, cheap wine. However, at some stores who dedicate themselves solely to liquor and spirits, they sell incredibly expensive wine, even up to $2k from where I've been.

As someone who has tried a bit of wine and not quite fond of the taste, I'm mainly curious if there really is any difference to expensive wine as opposed to store bought, "cheap" wine. Is there a vast, noticable difference between the two? Is the only reason I would pay more for the age of the wine or how rare it is?

One of my relatives who drinks lots of wine told me that there's relatively no difference between expensive and regular; it's noticable after your first glass, but after subsequent glasses it starts to taste the same. Is this true?

  • 2
    What do you consider cheap? Are you comparing $2 to $200? Or $20 to $200?
    – Cascabel
    Jan 25, 2016 at 23:34
  • 5
    Haven't multiple studies featuring double blind taste tests concluded that the only consistent difference between expensive wine and regular wine is the price? Jan 25, 2016 at 23:46
  • @Jefromi The price of wine you'd typically see at the supermarket as opposed to say buying it at a wine tasting place or in some vineyard or even at high end liquor stores.
    – yuritsuki
    Jan 26, 2016 at 0:45
  • 4
    My point is that supermarket wine typically is not all of the same price or quality. It's common to see things down to $5 or even less, along with lots in the $10-30 range and maybe up to $50+. Lumping that all together as "cheap" doesn't seem like a good way to get useful answers. (In fact, $5 vs $25 might be much more important than $25 vs $250.)
    – Cascabel
    Jan 26, 2016 at 2:28
  • 4
    After a few glasses of alcohol, you likely don't care how it tastes. (I know some Marines who had a policy of two or three good beers each, then switch to the cheap stuff). Oh, and xkcd.com/915 .
    – Joe
    Jan 26, 2016 at 3:21

8 Answers 8


There are several factors that increase price. Some are related to the objective quality of the wine, some indirectly linked, other are rather disconnected from quality (but not necessarily irrelevant, as we'll see). It's also worth noting that being of high quality doesn't necessarily mean being appealing to the average consumer.

Apart from the stuff listed below, mass-market wines tend to be made in a non-challenging, easily accessible style. Lower tannin levels, less acidity and a generous amount of residual sugar (say 10-30g/l) makes for easy quaffing but little complexity or elegance. They can be very well-made, but the agriculture may not be very sustainable, and the fruit probably isn't of the highest quality. (If you visit a winery at harvest when they bring in the bulk wine fruit, the meaning of "quality" becomes rather apparent.)

Wines targeted at connoisseurs, wine snobs and wine geeks (such as yours truly) tend have more structure (tannins, acidity) and are more often completely dry (although there are of course high-quality off-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet wines).

There's a limit to how much a producer can spend to increase quality, a limit which varies with location (because of salaries for workers etc) but around $100 per bottle is probably in the right order of magnitude. This does not mean that all wines above this magical limit are equally good, though.

A dirt-cheap wine will also have a cost associated to it which will be payed for by someone else, like under-payed harvest workers, the environment around the vineyard, etc.

Below are some factors that have a more or less direct link to wine quality and/or character:

Yield per acre: Limiting the vineyard's yield per acre (which can be achieved by sparser planting, thinning/green harvest, old vines, etc) increases the quality of the fruit, but you will produce less wine with more or less the same amount of work, which means you'll have to adjust the price.

Number of harvesting tries: At harvest, you can pick all the fruit of one vineyard at the same time and be done with it. Unfortunately, not all bunches ripen at exactly the same time, so to avoid over- or under-ripe grapes, you can make multiple tries (French, pronounced "trees") over several days and pick each bunch at optimal ripeness. More tries inevitably means more work, and so, price increases.

Selection: When the harvest is brought in, you can throw all the fruit into the press, or you can select the best grapes to make your wine (and make brandy or a second wine of the discarded grapes, or sell them on to a bulk wine producer). Being picky reduces the amount of wine produced, and so, prices increase.

Drying: Some wines, like Amarone and straw wine, are made from partially dried grapes, and drying decreases the amount of wine you produce (apart from being extra work) which means - more expensive wine.

Sparkling: Sparkling wines made with the traditional method - like Champagne and Cava - need to be disgorged after bottle fermentation, which leads to a certain amount of waste (a Cava producer I talked to said that around 10% of the original wine is lost in disgorgement).

Oak aging: Many wines are fermented and/or aged in oak barrels, which greatly affects the character of the wine compared to other types of containers, like concrete or stainless steel vats. (More oak doesn't mean better wine, of course.) Oak barrels are horribly more expensive than the alternatives (and European oak is more expensive than American, and they impart different character), and so, the more oak you use, the more expensive the wine gets.

Aging in general: Most high-quality wine receive a bit of aging before consumption to let all components integrate; some designations of origin even require aging prior to selling. Rioja Gran Reserva, for example, must be aged at least three years, with at least one of those years being on oak, while vintage Champagne is mandated to rest three years on the lees, etc. Apart from time being money, you also need a suitable storage location (cool and humid but not too cool and humid, secure but accessible to yourself, etc) which is far from free. The price increases.

Other factors aren't causally linked to higher quality, but tend to be connected:

Reputation: If you're an unproven winemaker you will be able to charge more if you're operating in a district of high repute than if you're working in an area where no-one has made quality wine before. Conversely, a well-known, high-quality producer expanding their operations to a somewhat less proven district will likely be able to charge more than their new neighbours.

Brand: Marketing can take many forms, such as it advertising, tailoring wines to suit influential reviewers, and tends to push prices up. Wineries can even try increasing prices just to seem more exclusive. You can also be lucky and find some great, undiscovered producer (don't tell anyone! except me, that is) selling their wines at more-or-less cost price (which probably still won't be dirt cheap, though).

Land prices: Some spots are better for growing grapes. If you're in unexploited territory, you might find a great spot and pay next to nothing, but if you're in a region with an established wine industry, odds are all the good spots are taken... and it'll cost you to buy an existing vineyard.

Know-how: Making wine is hard. Unless you are good at it yourself (or a friend, or perhaps your nephew, or your sister-in-law, is), you can hire some hotshot consultant œnologist like Michel Rolland to help you make the most of the fruit you produce... but the consultants will cost you lots of $$$, and your customers will need to pay.

Vintage: Vintages vary in quality and quantity. If a vintage is high quality but low in quantity, we will see less supply and likely higher demand. Having said that, a good year isn't always a guarantee for a good wine (if the winemaker screws up the quality of the fruit doesn't matter), and in a hard year, auspicious microclimates and competent vintners can produce great wines anyway. Furthermore, some years can be very good but have an even better "sibling" year, and don't receive their due hype. For example, 1995 was a very, very good year in Champagne, but 1996 is perhaps one of the greatest vintages evur, so the 1995s can be something of a bargain compared to 1996s.

Some things might not increase quality at all but still have an effect on price (and some of these may still be worth the price!):

Use of pesticides: Using pesticides to counter disease, parasites, pests, etc can increase yield without affecting quality negatively, which lowers the price, but on the other hand you spew out poisons into nature and expose your vineyard workers to them. (The residues left in the finished wine tend to be negligible, though.)

Labour: Paying decent wages to your harvest workers means a costlier wine. Find some illegal immigrants you can pay less than minimum wage and the wine gets cheaper.

Taxes: Some countries have different alcohol taxes for for different ABVs. For example, in Sweden (where I live) the tax is relatively lower for a 15% ABV wine than it is at 16% ABV (which isn't very common, but for example Zinfandels and Amarones can reach that amount). Furthermore, in some countries the alcohol tax depends on the alcohol content solely (which favours expensive wine, as alcohol tax will end up being rather negligible), in others it may be a percentage of the retail price (which favours cheap wine).

Price regulations: At least historically, some districts have regulated the minimum price (and sometimes also the maximum) price a farmer can charge for their fruit when selling it to a winemaker, which inevitably affects the end price.

Export/import: If you buy wine from far away countries, not only are you paying for the transport, but you may also be paying import/export tariffs.

Organic certification: Organic farming doesn't necessarily mean organic certification. The organizations issuing certifications charge a fee, which can be quite hefty for a small producer, so some organic producers aren't labelled as such since they can't afford the certification fees.

Adding gold: Yup, there are wines with actual gold added to them. I can't see that affecting quality in any way, but it'll surely affect the price!

So, to conclude - quality costs, but not all costs impart quality, and quality doesn't equate appeal.

  • This is a really good, quite comprehensive list. I'd offer one suggestion: a major cost involved in the aging process is finding someplace suitable to store the barrels. You need controlled conditions for the wine to survive and benefit from the aging process, and it's not cheap to set up and maintain an ideal cellar.
    – logophobe
    Jan 26, 2016 at 15:49
  • 1
    Oh, and one other major factor are be tariffs and export fees. There is a price premium involved in importing wine from France to the US, rather than buying local stuff from California. Those costs are even more complicated because they're also highly local - how the costs vary depend on your location, the wine's country of origin, and how many governments, agencies, and companies are involved during the transaction. Everybody involved wants to make money from the process and so prices go up.
    – logophobe
    Jan 26, 2016 at 15:52
  • Right you are @logophobe! We can also add taxes to the list as they can affect prices differently for different wines.
    – gustafc
    Jan 26, 2016 at 16:58
  • 2
    On the same issue as 'tries' -- some vineyards are set up for mechanized harvesting. This removes much of the labor costs, but I suspect that it'll result in all fruit being stripped from the vines, no matter the state of ripeness.
    – Joe
    Jan 27, 2016 at 11:28

Before I provide the following answer, I feel it necessary to preface it by saying that I enjoy all sorts of fine (read: expensive) alcoholic beverages, and some of the best meals in my life have been at restaurants with amazing paired wines that create amazing taste sensations. Those meals (and the wines) could rarely be classified as "cheap." Nevertheless...

While I think gustafc's answer is excellent and touches on various elements of the production and marketing of wine which distinguish cheaper wines from more expensive ones, I think it overlooks a critical element of the question, namely:

Is there a vast, noticable difference between the two? Is the only reason I would pay more for the age of the wine or how rare it is?

One of my relatives who drinks lots of wine told me that there's relatively no difference between expensive and regular; it's noticable after your first glass, but after subsequent glasses it starts to taste the same. Is this true?

I certainly agree that there are all sorts of reasons why expensive wine is often expensive. But the question is also asking whether those things result in vast, noticeable differences in taste. If you were trying to sell me an expensive blender that cost 10 times the amount of the model beside it, you could tell me all sorts of stories about how it was produced or constructed or what materials were used, but ultimately I care about whether it would actually blend better and whether that improvement in performance will result in a noticeable difference that would justify the cost.

Now, it may seem at first glance that "taste" is completely subjective, and thus there's no way to definitively answer that portion of this question without just offering an opinion. But there have been a number of objective scientific studies which have attempted to answer precisely this question, i.e., Are the differences in taste between cheap and expensive wines noticeable for most drinkers, and are those differences vast enough to justify a significant price difference?

The answer that most such studies have come to is basically a definitive NO.

  • In 2011, a blind tasting from 578 people showed that people correctly distinguished between expensive/cheap pairs of white wines 53% of the time and 47% for reds. Basically, it's the same odds (50/50) as guessing or flipping a coin.
  • A 2008 study of 6175 blind tastings actually showed a slight negative association with expensive wines for average consumers. Approximately 12% of the sample group were classified as "experts" if they had participated in some sort of "wine training" at some point in their lives (though that seems to have been self-reported, so the significance is questionable). For the "experts," the association was slightly positive, meaning they did rate the expensive wines slightly higher than the cheaper ones, though the effect wasn't large.

Now, one might criticize such studies because these weren't really "wine experts," and one of the studies didn't incorporate expert opinions at all. But they speak to the question's concern about whether a difference will be noticeable or not to someone who doesn't necessarily know much about wine. The answer appears to be NO -- and in fact, if we believe the second study, chances are that "normal" drinkers are slightly less likely to enjoy expensive wine at a blind tasting. As the second study concluded in their abstract:

Our results indicate that both the prices of wines and wine recommendations by experts may be poor guides for non-expert wine consumers.

But what about those who are more "educated" in wine? Alas, things don't get much better. In a famous set of experiments done by Frederic Brochet in 2001 at the University of Bordeaux, well -- I'll let The Atlantic tell the story:

In one experiment, he got 54 oenology (the study of wine tasting and wine making) undergraduates together and had them taste one glass of red wine and one glass of white wine. He had them describe each wine in as much detail as their expertise would allow. What he didn't tell them was both were the same wine. He just dyed the white one red. In the other experiment, he asked the experts to rate two different bottles of red wine. One was very expensive, the other was cheap. Again, he tricked them. This time he had put the cheap wine in both bottles. So what were the results?

The tasters in the first experiment, the one with the dyed wine, described the sorts of berries and grapes and tannins they could detect in the red wine just as if it really was red. Every single one, all 54, could not tell it was white. In the second experiment, the one with the switched labels, the subjects went on and on about the cheap wine in the expensive bottle. They called it complex and rounded. They called the same wine in the cheap bottle weak and flat.

In other words, if you dye the wine red, people will experience it as if it were a red wine, and if you tell people that wine is more expensive, they will enjoy it more. In another study done at Caltech, five wine bottles were filled with three different wines. Two pairs of bottles were the same wine, but the participants were told that they differed in price. The "more expensive" wines caused pleasure centers in participants' brains to light up more than the "cheaper" wines, even if they were tasting the same wine.

The moral of the story may be: If you want to enjoy the most "bang for your buck," have someone else buy cheap wine for you, but tell you it's expensive. (Apparently, if some studies are to be believed, this efficacy of this strategy may vary depending on your gender.)

But surely the true "experts," such as wine judges can tell the difference, right? Well...

[A] typical judge's scores varied by plus or minus four points over the three blind tastings. A wine deemed to be a good 90 would be rated as an acceptable 86 by the same judge minutes later and then an excellent 94.

Some of the judges were far worse, others better – with around one in 10 varying their scores by just plus or minus two. A few points may not sound much but it is enough to swing a contest – and gold medals are worth a significant amount in extra sales for wineries.

Considering that the vast majority of wines tend to receive ratings in the 80s or low 90s, an error of +/-4 means that even the same judge was often on completely opposite ends of the scale when tasting the same wine blind. Also, studies in subsequent years indicated that the judges who tended to do well (small range) one year generally were worse in other years of judging.

But it gets worse. From the same author (Robert Hodgson, interviewed here):

  • Another study showed that wines which received medals and did fantastic at one competition often did poorly at another. Statistical analysis showed the the distribution of wine awards was such that winners might as well be "picked out of a hat" at random.
  • Another study tried to use the criteria established in psychometric studies for consistency in judging differences (in general, not just for wine) to evaluate wine judges. It concluded that less than 30% of wine judges -- who award medals that often influence prices significantly -- were consistent enough in ratings to even be considered "experts."

PDFs of Hodgson's first two studies are currently available here and here. It's interesting to contrast his findings with those of Lecocq and Visser, which also found there was little correlation between quality of "taste" and price. But they found the primary determinants of French wine prices instead had less to do with jury ratings (or taste) and more to do with information on labels (such as vintage, appellation, etc.).

To summarize:

  1. If you are told wine A is more expensive than wine B, you will likely enjoy wine A more, regardless of whether A is more expensive or even if A = B. To put it another way, "our beliefs often matter more than the grapes."
  2. If A is actually more expensive, and you taste A and B blind (and are not a wine "expert"), chances are you won't be able to tell which is more expensive. If you do notice a difference, there may be slight tendency to like the expensive wine A less. Of course, you could always try throwing it in a blender to make it taste better. (What? You thought my earlier reference to a blender was just random??)
  3. Beyond price, superficial characteristics like the color of the wine, the context of how it is served (fancy restaurant in fine glass stemware vs. at a bad party out of plastic cups), the time of day, whether you think the wine is from California vs. North Dakota (or France vs. New Jersey or Texas), and even the color of light in the room can vastly affect the perception of wine's "taste" (as well as the taste of food you have with it).
  4. Prices are greatly influenced by "expert" wine judges and prizes awarded by them. Repeated studies suggest that the accuracy of many of these judges is not consistent enough to rely on their ratings or the prizes that result from them.

In general, drink what you like. There may be production methods that differ significantly in some expensive wines, but there's little evidence in blind tastings to support the idea that average people will sense a "vast noticeable difference" that the question asks about.

  • Thanks for the additional answer! I actually read gustafc's answer as suggesting the same thing: much of price is tied up in things that aren't related to quality. Nonetheless it's great to have another answer that's much more clear about it, and you've succeeded in making awarding that bounty harder!
    – Cascabel
    Jan 30, 2016 at 3:38
  • The other answer was more objective in terms of differences quality wise between wines, but I'm struggling between picking this as accepted as this makes more sense for someone who wants to appreciate the taste of wine but found little reason doing so.
    – yuritsuki
    Jan 30, 2016 at 8:33
  • @Jefromi: I didn't write the answer to "steal" the bounty, and I still think the other answer is excellent (and deserving of recognition). "Quality" is also a problematic term: I can buy a handmade copper pan, but it's unlikely to cook better than a machine-made copper pan of the same specs from a good manufacturer. Yet I might still value the "quality" of the first for aesthetic or cultural reasons, as I might value the quality of a crafted wine beyond its objective taste. I tried to address the latter issue (because it came up in the question), but other differences may still be important.
    – Athanasius
    Jan 30, 2016 at 13:46
  • Great to see them all listed and interpreted. Good job. I have worked as pyschologist in food market research, and you will always find things like that. But in wine, pretentiousness is absolute ruling. You might try to discern between wine made with high quality methods and produce, and the quality of wine as communicated by price or by experts. There is not much of a correlation between the two, granted, but it gives you something to go with, since you cannot trust the experts anyway. One test has not been mentioned: the severity of the hangover. If a wine gives you a big headache...
    – Marc Luxen
    Jan 30, 2016 at 16:21
  • I was hoping someone would pull together some of this research... I have a few references from various books but this answer shows a lot more homework. Nice job.
    – logophobe
    Jan 31, 2016 at 1:00

I know there are exceptions to the rules and there are a lot of marketing going on in the wine business.

One big difference in price is the method of fabrication.

Industrial wine is cheap(er) because they use a lot more insecticide, pesticide on the grapes to keep the yield constant from year to year; they will use mechanical grape harvesters instead of hand picking grapes

Industrial wine producers will also use a lot of manipulation after the grapes are harvested, they will use more chemical additive (factory made yeasts, mega-purple, extra sulfur...) and mechanical manipulations (reverse osmosis,...) to have a constant quality product from vintage to vintage. They will also use tricks like using wood chips in stainless steel vats instead of aging the wine in wood barrels,

On the other hands, more expensive wines will limit the use of insecticide and pesticide in the fields, so they have to be extra-careful growing and maintaining the grapes; they will also use manual grape harvest, and only pick the best grapes (and do manual quality control before the grapes are pressed).

They will use wild yeast to ferment the wine, and will not use chemical additives, some will even not add extra sulfur to the wine (google "natural wines") at the risk of having bad bottles of wines.

Compare the extremes:

E & J Gallo Winery in the USA, which produce mostly industrial wine ( or the French or Spain or Italian equivalent) to small producers like Domaine de la Romanée-Conti which produce organic wine.

Both are doing wine, but the result and the price are completely different.

Having said that,


I personally stopped buying expensive wines; instead of going for trophy bottles, I am a lot more selective, I try to buy from smaller producers or producers that are as organic as possible.

Nice read: http://www.wired.com/2014/04/how-to-make-wine-taste-good/

  • 1
    What does "are a[s] bio as possible" mean?
    – Cascabel
    Jan 26, 2016 at 3:40
  • probably bad wording (lost in translation), I mean that if I will look for wine makers that either buy or grow grapes that were not grown with the help of pesticide or herbicide or insecticide. Look for "Organic certification" on the bottles.
    – Max
    Jan 26, 2016 at 3:47
  • Oh, I hadn't even noticed there was translation! I think organic is probably the best translation. (Even though in English we tend to think of it as a binary yes/no thing, "as organic as possible" still seems pretty clear to me.)
    – Cascabel
    Jan 28, 2016 at 0:07

A high quality wine (which is usually expensive) come from a good year and a vineyard that has produced good wines consistently and is recognised as such.

Their grapes may be selected or not, they may use ecological principles or not (although producing ecologically is slightly more expensive, but certainly does not produce the best wines), whatever, as long as they produce great wine.

That said, nothing stops you from producing bad wine and selling it for a high price, of course.

So yes, that is subjective, but a producer that selects their grapes, grows the best suited grape for the terroir, does not have to add stuff, does not overproduce, and had a great year gets better wine than producer who produces the maximum, by any means.

And most good (red) wines benefit from aging, and that costs money too.

There are wines that are industrially made by buying all left over wines or grapes and blending them to a consistent product. The produce doesn't have to come from one producer, or even one region, or even one country.

So is any bottle worth 2000K? is a 2000k bottle 2000 times better than a 1 dollar bottle? Of course not. Paying more than say, 60 dollars (and I think that is already a lot) you enter the realm of conspicuous consumption: you buy that to show you can afford to buy it, in the same token as jewellery, which is useless but expensive, sports cars etc. Wine is a culture, with a great many snobs, players, and fools in it.


Principally price is based on reputation for producing a special quality product. However since you mentioned it in your question, if you do not like wine, it won't matter how much you pay for it.

It is however also worth noting that there is often a big difference between $5 and $25 wines, and it may be that you don't like the "variety" of wines you have tried. To keep things simple for an untested wine drinker, there are basically 6 or 8 kinds of wine roughly split in half between whites and reds (there is a lot more variation than that but let's keep it simple)

You need to try each "kind" and find one you like or finally decide ok you really just don't like wine.

I like Pinot noir (a lighter red), Pinot Gris (a light but smoky white) and puisse fume (semi-sweet white) which I only know how to describe as Luscious. I also like reisling which is a quite sweet white wine.

These wines are VERY different from Chardonnay which is tart, buttery and woody, Pinot Gregio which is like Pinot Gris, but too tart for me, and Cabernet sauvignon which is perhaps the heaviest and most complex wine you'll drink save for burgundy and these are just too much for my taste buds, but cab sav makes awesome stew.

  • Strongly agree about $5 vs $25 - in general, there are diminishing returns as price increases. So while the incredibly expensive stuff the OP asked about probably isn't worth it, the slightly-more-expensive stuff might be. (Depending on whether they meant $5 or $25 when they said cheap.)
    – Cascabel
    Jan 28, 2016 at 0:04

As all these excellent answers assert, it's a generally a quality costs situation (with some added friction of taxes and tariffs).

I'll add an additional thought: An economist would say the wine market is has semi-strong efficiency. Depending on where you live.

Supply side: the wine retailers where I live are very advanced in their market research and pricing analysis. They know their customers well, they spot emerging trends quickly, and rapidly adjust prices to market conditions.

Demand side: the wine enthusiasts here have a very effective network. If a good or bad wine is about, it is known quickly (and the retailers learn very quickly).

End result: generally, lower quality wines have low prices, higher quality wines have high prices.

Caveat: the supply chain from vineyard to retail is very sophisticated. Analysts run periodic aging inventory reports. They identify which items have been too long on the shelf and need to be moved soon. They offer incentives to the retailer, or to the consumer (usually those mail in rebates). In these situations you can get a good wine or liquor at a good price.

I do not agree with statements that there is little difference between cheap wine and expensive wine. Some of the cheap wines out there are just awful.

Though, some of the cheap stuff is pretty good. What I do, I go to my favorite store where I'm a regular, I tell the staff "I want a red, on the dry side, for about $10.. surprise me." They have never let me down, I get a $10 bottle that's pretty good. Usually it's from Italy.

Romanée-Conti vineyard

Here is a story about probably the most expensive wine made.

Here is a gripping story, that also touches on why some cost more than others.


I enjoyed reading the variety of answers to the initial question here; "Is there a substantial difference between "fine bottled wine" and "mass produced bottled wine"?

The question leaves off "bulk wine" which makes up nearly 35% of the global market, but I think it is generally accepted that bulk wine production includes practices that are aimed at creating a very consistent taste year over year and at a very low comparative price. As such, those wines will often be of less quality.

It is interesting to see that the general public has proven to be unable to distinguish a Supermarket wine from a specialty store wine and also that some experts will be influenced by the trappings of the presentation and expectations set.

In general, I concur with the theme "Drink what you like". If you are fortunate enough to like lower priced wines, your experience will be just fine and your pocketbook less dented.

I prefer to pair wine with food, cheese or a meal. If you are pairing wine with food, there is another great axiom; "What grows together goes together". Winemakers around the world have been producing their wine in conjunction with the foods of the region for CENTURIES. And because wine making is a globally competitive business, it is fair to assume these pairs have been successful for good reasons.

On the production costs, If you take the most expensive grapes on the most expensive land and apply the most expensive growing, harvesting, fermenting and aging practices and then put them through the traditional supply chain of winemaker to wholesaler to retailer to restaurant, where each link in the chain has the expectation of doubling their money, the argument can be made that if you are paying any more than 100 dollars per bottle in a retail shop or 200 dollars for a bottle in a restaurant, you are paying for reputation, scarcity or other factors that go beyond the cost to produce and distribute.

Most wine shops carry a wide selection of red and white wines at price points from 10 to several hundred dollars. You are far more likely to find diversity in the grape varietals at these stores vs the supermarket and the vendor will often store the wine more appropriately as well.

No matter what wine grapes, regions or styles, you like, it is quite possible that you can find something you like just as well or better and often for less money. With more than 8,000 wine grape varietals classified and more than 800 produced annually somewhere in the world, it seems rather sad that most Americans are limited in their knowledge to the "Noble 8". The diversity in choices drives a competitive market that is available every day.

Supermarket or Specialty Shop? I don't think it matters as much until you want to experience diversity and go deeper into the 10,000 or more flavors that wine is reported to offer.


A major difference is also the region from which the grapes originate, whose location, climate, and soil profoundly affect.

Grapes from Napa valley, for instance, are inferior in taste to grapes from Southern France.

Include processes the casks and fermentation and the types of metals used, and the price for that bottle goes up.

You can't tell the difference if you compare them side by side.

Try this instead: for a few months, drink only $100 wine, say a Riesling. Then at the end of the four months switch to a $10 Riesling—I promise you that you'll notice the difference.

  • 5
    It might be better to avoid stating personal preferences as fact, especially when the scale of the difference is in question. If they taste the same side-by-side, and you have to train yourself for four months, making one wine incredibly familiar, so that you can notice that the other wine is not the same, doesn't that suggest that there's not really a major difference?
    – Cascabel
    Jan 26, 2016 at 3:33
  • 3
    This is wrong. Napa , or any grapes in the US is as good as any other grapes in the world (and vice-versa), they just make different kind of wines. There are good and bad wines everywhere in the world.
    – Max
    Jan 26, 2016 at 3:51
  • 2
    That simply isn't true. Grapes are not all the same all over the world. Jan 26, 2016 at 6:33
  • 4
    "Not the same everywhere" and "I prefer French wine" is not the same thing as "Napa is inferior." And that's assuming you can taste the difference as clearly as you say, which seems dubious given that even you say you can't taste the difference side by side.
    – Cascabel
    Jan 26, 2016 at 8:16
  • 3
    Wine price is generally more about branding and exclusivity than about actual quality. Anyway, if I drank only $100 wines for 4 months I'd be broke by the end of the week.
    – Catija
    Jan 30, 2016 at 2:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.