In the know

Save or splurge? Wine edition

Standing in front of the wine shelves you’ll notice a great variation. No, it’s not only the varietals of grapes on offer, it’s the price tags. So how do you choose to save or splurge?

As anyone who’s ever shopped in Italian supermarkets will testify, very little money will buy you a surprising amount of good-tasting wine. The point being, value wines can taste incredible, and expensive wines can leave us disappointed. While many consumer studies have been done showing that on average consumers can’t tell cheap wine from expensive when tasting blind, most wine experts agree that variations in production and taste justify the price differences.

The wines we buy can be influenced by many things, from the grape varietal to the winery, age, label, colour, taste and price. The latter is often a major guiding factor, but how do you know whether to save or splurge on wine, and what do you get for the differences in price?

$ - From the Source

Grape sourcing is usually one of the main defining price factors, with value wines tending to be blends of grapes from different vineyards or locations, allowing for different levels of the fruit to be used to balance each other out.

$$ - Location Location

While mass-produced and niche brands of wine can both present similar qualities of wine, niche wineries tend to have higher costs per yield, and can therefore bump up the price. New world wines are often said to be cheaper to buy than old world wines, but New Zealand’s many boutique wineries contradict that theory.

$$$ - Age Counts

Longer ageing times cost wineries money, offering the luxury to allow wines to sit in cask and bottle to develop flavour and aroma variation. Typically, less expensive wines will be aged for around six to nine months in the barrel and spend a further six to nine months in the bottle before being released to the market, while more pricey wines can take anything from four years upwards before being released onto the market.

$$$$ - Cherry Picking Grapes

Higher price-tag wines have often had more time spent in the selection or cultivation of specific grapes, in order to present drinkers with an intentional story for their tastebuds to follow. Hence, winemakers may cherry-pick from crops with low yields yet high price tags, in order to obtain specific flavour characteristics.

The key moral of the story here is that wine drinking is a subjective thing. It’s as much about experience as it is about taste. So whether you decide to save or splurge – pop the cork, pour, and enjoy!

Check out our Toast picks below for a taste of a few beautiful wines from across the price spectrum.

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