Ask the WC 12: $5 wine, varietal character, negative reviews

$5 wine

Yes, Abe, there is $5 wine worth buying.

This edition of Ask the WC: Is there quality $5 wine?

Because the customers always have questions, and the Wine Curmudgeon has answers in this irregular feature. Ask the Wine Curmudgeon wine-related question by clicking here.

Hello Wine Curmudgeon:
You advocate cheap wine, but is there anything cheaper than $10, which is your cutoff, worth drinking? Are there $5 wines I can buy?
On a fixed income

Dear Fixed:
There is lots of $5 and $6 wine; Barefoot at about $6 is the best-selling wine in the U.S. But finding wine at that price that is interesting and varietally correct is difficult, which is why I use $10. Your best bet would be the Rene Barbier red and white (though the red isn’t what it was) at about $4, and several Italian Chiantis, like Melini, that cost around $6. Otherwise, you get what you pay for.

Dear Wine Curmudgeon:
I’m confused by some of your reviews. Your write that wine should have varietal character. What is that? Doesn’t it matter that it just tastes good?
I like good wine

Dear Good:
Varietal character, to me, is the most important thing in wine. Does a cabernet sauvignon taste like a cabernet sauvignon? Does a chardonnay taste like a chardonnay? Otherwise, what’s the point? Why buy a sauvignon blanc that doesn’t taste like sauvignon blanc? Unfortunately, Big Wine doesn’t think varietal character is as important as I do, and tends to make wines that have similar characteristics regardless of varietal – soft red wines with little tannin, lots of fruit, and too much fake oak, whether the wine is cabernet, merlot, or pint noir. That may be a good wine, if you like that style, but it’s not very interesting.

Hello, Wine Curmudgeon:
How come you don’t write negative reviews? I’d assume that someone as cranky as you are would enjoy saying nasty things about bad wine.
Puzzled in Pennsylvania

Dear Puzzled:
That’s a question I get asked a lot, and my old pal Dave Falchek, who writes reviews for the Scranton newspaper, has taken me to task for not doing it. And I do sometimes include wines I don’t think are well made in the monthly mini-reviews. But I’m here to find cheap wine worth drinking, and I think it’s more important to write about those wines in the wines of the week and the other reviews than to show how clever and snarky I can be.

More Ask the Wine Curmudgeon:
Ask the WC 11: Arsenic lawsuit, marijuana, wine competitions
Ask the WC 10: Spanish wine, wine prices, oak
Ask the WC 9: Premiumization, wine bottles, Chicago Cubs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Want to buy cheap wine that's worth drinking? Tired of getting scammed by high prices? Then click here, fill out the form, and get the Wine Curmudgeon in your mailbox every day.