How Much Does it Cost to Get Good Wine?


How much do you have to spend to get a good, or great, glass of wine?

Well, that depends on what you like. And often it can depend on if you know what you are drinking.

Back in 2008, Robin Goldstein decided to find out what the connection is between price and taste preference among regular wine consumers and wine experts. He hosted wine trials, brown bag tastings across the country where sommeliers, winemakers and wine consumers tasted wines side by side and scored them. True to the name, the tasters were not told what wines they were tasting, and the bottles were covered in brown bags so the identities could not be determined.

And you know what? Many bargain wines scored higher than luxury wines in terms of taste preference.

Let me write that again and explain:

Wine experts as well as regular wine consumers often scored less expensive wines as high or higher than more expensive wines when the wines were tasted blind, that is the taster did not know which wine he or she was tasting.

And I’m not talking about non well-known wines with a price difference of $10 or even $20, or even preferences at just one tasting. Year after year the $12 Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut from Washington State beats out both the $40 Veuve Cliquot and the $150 Dom Perignon in the Wine Trials.

Yes, expert and non expert tasters alike agree that the $12 wine tastes better than the $150 bottle, when they don’t know what they are tasting.

That’s a pretty big deal in my book.

So why do so many spend $150 (or hope to)? And what are they paying for?

I think that budget-conscious, savvy shopper respect that is so prevalent in other areas needs to move on over and join the wine world. Wine is not just for snobs or those looking to spend an exorbitant of money to enhance a meal or celebrate a special occasion. Wine that is perfect for dinner can be found for $10. Or less.

It is time to stop apologizing about choosing less expensive wine, or for selecting the least expensive wine on the wine list. Even sommeliers will agree, as Vanessa Trevino Boyd of Philippe Bar + Lounge did, when she said that every wine on a restaurant’s list should be delicious, even the least expensive one.

Wine doesn’t have to be expensive. Or fancy. Wine should be enjoyed with everything from a cheeseburger with friends to an elaborate wedding feast or other celebration.

And it shouldn’t cost too much.

So how much do you have to spend to get a good, or great, glass of wine? Not a lot. You just have to know what you like, or be willing to ask questions and try new things to find what you like.

Looking for some less expensive wines to try or want to learn more about Robin Goldstein’s Wine Trials?

You can read all about the wines involved in the brown bag tastings and the methods Robin Goldstein’s team used to set up the tastings in The Wine Trials 2011*. The book is released annually, with lists of high-scoring wines that outscored $50 to $150 priced bottles and retail at $15 or less. The 2012 copy will release September 1, but go ahead and get your copy of the 2011 edition. It’s cheaper, and you will still be amazed and find some fantastic wines to try.

So… what do you think buyers are typically paying for when they pay a higher price for wine? And what lower-priced wines do you enjoy? Please share in the comments

 *This is an affiliate link.



  1. Sabrina Justison

    I definitely feel the pressure to buy pricier wines if I’m entertaining. There are some inexpensive wines that my husband and I really enjoy (true confession: I love Bota Box Shiraz. Yup, wine out of a cardboard box…and it’s delicious! For wine in glass bottles, I like Smoking Loon Pinot Noir or Mirassou or Blackstone Merlot), but I lean toward higher-priced bottles when we’re having folks over. So what is it that I’m buying? Ugh, I think the answer is something to do with image and people-pleasing and pride.

    I like to find specific wines to go with the courses at a nice dinner I’m hosting, so sometimes I’m buying for a particular recommended pairing. But primarily I pay more when I’m afraid that my guests will think I’m cheap otherwise.

    This statement in your post, by the way, is brilliant! “I think that budget-conscious, savvy shopper respect that is so prevalent in other areas needs to move on over and join the wine world.”

  2. Cindy A.

    When out at a restaurant I generally pay around $8-$12, maybe more if the server picks for me. I really don’t check the price when a server decides what wine would pair best with my meal.
    I have found a few very inexpensive wine Winking Owl and Rex Goliath… I enjoy both red and white. Oh I almost forgot Ménage à Trois.

    1. Cindy A.

      I usually pay $8-$12 for a glass… I don’t even think restaurants sell bottles of wine for that price!

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