February 15, 2022 4 min read
Yes, you can still find the occasional stuffy snob who scoffs at any wine that costs less than $60. However, most of us layfolk drinkers simply want to find a delicious wine we can enjoy after a long 9-5 WITHOUT spending our entire paycheck.
How does one guarantee getting great value amongst a sea of wine labels? How do you avoid the dreaded decision fatigue and still get a good deal?
In this blog, we will disclose some tips and tricks to find the best wine bargains. Then we will recommend a couple of killer value wines that you should pick up. Easy as that, let’s roll!
We live in the future where information is just a couple of clicks away. You can get all kinds of information regarding price and quality if you do a little bit of research before going into the wine store. Wine apps like Vivino, Wine-Searcher, Delectable, and Wine.com are designed to simplify your search process. In some cases, they can even help you purchase the wine without leaving the comfort of your La-Z Boy recliner.
Of course, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention that even if a wine is famous on the apps, that doesn’t mean the wine will work for you. Just like the Kardashians - not everyone's cup of tea. Mine… but not everyone’s.
Check them out for yourself! Visit the App store and give wine apps a run.
In a previous blog post about winemaking costs, we discussed the role of vineyards in the pricing of wine. Yes, Napa Valley produces some incredible wine, but is it worth 3x the value of a Paso Robles wine? If you are hunting for a daily beverage, the answer is a resounding “NO”.
Below are a couple of suggestions for finding deals on the wines you can drink daily:
Cabernet Sauvignon – Instead of Napa Valley, try Paso Robles or Alexander Valley.The area of Alexander Valley borders the Northernmost part of Napa and produces wines of comparable quality.
Suggestion: Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Avg Price $22)
California Chardonnay – Check out Central Coast. The region has one of the only transverse mountain ranges, meaning the mountains run East to West instead of North to South. The mountains create a natural vacuum that pulls the cool air from the Pacific Ocean, cooling the area. The moderating presence that such a phenomenon provides is perfect for Chardonnay.
Suggestion: Foxglove Central Coast Chardonnay (Avg Price $16)
Any rich reds like Zinfandel or Petite Sirah – Check out Contra Costa County, Lodi, or Sierra Foothills.In Lodi, you can find fertile soils that work very well for Petite Sirah. In the Foothills, you can discover higher-elevation wines with more structure and acid.
Suggestion: McManis Family Vineyards Estate Petite Sirah (Avg Price $12)
Only drink Cab and Chardonnay? I can’t help you there. Bargain hunting is all about exploring, diversifying your taste portfolio, and diving in. At a steal of a price, why not risk a little? To give you a bit more guidance, here are some ideas for alternative grapes you may want to try.
If you like Chardonnay, try a white Bierzo (a Spanish wine made from Godello) or a white Rioja (made from the Viura grape). Both are bright, exhibit green and citrus fruit, and take well to oak aging like Chardonnay. They aren’t exactly alike though, so keep that in mind.
Suggestion: Bierzo Blanco, Ultreia Godello (Avg Price $23), Raul Perez
If you are a big Champagne drinker but don’t want to drop $50+ on a bottle, try a French Crémant. Made in the same style as Champagne, but outside the Champagne region. The one below is a Blanquette, basically a different name for Crémant and is an absolute bargain. Save your Dom P and Moet for a special occasion!
Suggestion: Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux Brut Avg $14. You can get it at some places for $10.99.
If you dig Pinot Noir, try Gamay (a fruitier version) or Trousseau Noir (which has similar lightness and freshness). Also, some exceptional Italian Etna Rosso wines taste like Pinot Noir’s wilder cousin. Etna Rossos are grown in the volcanic soils of Mount Etna, which force the vine to dig deep for nutrients and grow grapes of tremendous complexity and concentration.
Suggestions: Benanti Etna Rosso (Avg Price $23)
It’s obvious, but if you are at a wine & spirit-focused store, there are probably deeply passionate salespeople who would love to be consulted about various wines from all over the world. These people love good wine and enjoy it daily. We’re also guessing they’re not Rockefellers, so they can’t afford $100 Pinots every day. Ask them what they drink daily, and they will lead you to a wine that is likely not only delicious and affordable, but also unique and made from a variety that you have never tried before.
Like with the wine apps, the wine steward may not get it right. But if you are open to good wines and low prices, a little personal interaction is worth the risk!
And there we are. A few tricks that will make you significantly more knowledgeable about wine, save you a bunch of cheddar, and get you drinking wines that give you bang for the buck. At least that is the idea. Of course, this is just the beginning; the world of wine is vast and ever-expanding, so we hope this blog will at least help you know where to dip your toes.
Comments will be approved before showing up.