Tom Johnson at the Louisville Juice blog asked that question last week, and was nice enough to quote the Wine Curmudgeon in his post. Tom's point is that the cost to buy quality cheap wine has increased, and that there isn't that much good $10 wine anymore. He points to a couple of the leading wine blogs that offer $15 and $20 as cutoffs, says he uses $17 as the dividing line, and even notes that I'm writing about more $20 than ever before.
I have been pondering this since Tom's post ran, and I think I'll stick to my $10 price point. There is still plenty of wonderful wine at that price, as Robin Goldstein and I discussed when the second edition of The Wine Trials was released. That hasn't changed. What has changed is that there is more cheap wine than ever before, much of which is very ordinary, and which has overshadowed the quality $10 wine that is available. More, after the jump:
First, lots and lots and lots of grapes made into cheap wine -- not just from the California grape glut this decade, but from Australia (and, to a lesser extent, Spain, Chile and Argentina). These are wines that, for the most part, had not existed. In the early '90s, if you wanted to buy cheap wine, you bought it from France or from California in jugs. Shiraz with a cute label was unknown, but today, Yellow Tail sells around 8 million cases in the U.S.
In fact, the French have been mostly pushed out of the cheap wine market and there are so many cheap California wines that it's sometimes difficult to believe. Barefoot, for example, has used Gallo's marketing muscle and savvy to become one of the top 10 brands in the country.
Which leads to the second point: The proliferation of companies focusing on cheap wine, like Bronco, which does Two Buck Chuck; The Wine Company; and Three Thieves. They have taken advantage of the oversupply of grapes and used modern marketing techniques (something else that didn't exist in the wine business 20 years ago) to sell wine. Gallo's marketing for Barefoot is an excellent example. It focuses on lifestyle without much wine snobbiness, and price is rarely mentioned. That's almost unheard of in the wine business.
So keep looking for great $10 wine. It's out there. It's just more difficult to find it, because there are so many other $10 wines on the shelf to sort through.