Putting my money where my crankiness is: A case of quality cheap wine for about $80.
This is the second of two parts about buying cheap wine in the age of premiumization. Part I on Sept. 22: The cheap wine checklist.
Why do so many people pay so much money for so much lousy wine? Because, as I discussed with Laura Lawson on her Wine Crush radio show last week, we’re afraid to try something different. If it’s not what we always drink, and that’s almost always overpriced cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and merlot, then we’re stuck paying too much.
Hence the cheap wine checklist, and its five guidelines to help us find quality cheap wine. How well does it work? Quite well; I used the checklist to buy a case of wine at the main Dallas Spec’s for $82.67 last week. The wines were from Spain, France, and South Africa, there was nary a cabernet or chardonnay among them, and four were roses.
I’ve bought some of the wines before, but almost half were first-time purchases:
• The repeats – four bottles of the Rene Barbier white Spanish blend, the Chateau Bonnet white Bordeaux, the Bieler et Fils rose from Provence, and the South African Goats do Roam rose. Total: $46.29
• I splurged on the Château La Tour Beraud Blanc, made with grenache blanc from the southern Rhone in France. Total: $12.62
• The Brumont tannat-merlot blend from Gascony in France, made by the same producer who does a nice Gascon white blend. Total: $10.52.
• Two Spanish wines from Frederico Paternina, a tempranillo and rose, because almost all Spanish wine is worth buying. Total: $16.82.
• The 2015 vintage of the Marques Caceras rose, which I hadn’t tasted in a couple of years. Total: $8.09.
Grand total, minus $11.67 in cash and case discounts and not including sales tax, was $82.67.
So no bellyaching when you say you can’t find anything cheap and good to buy. Yes, I benefited because Spec’s is the biggest retailer in Texas and because it’s locked in a death struggle with Total Wine for control of the Dallas market – both of which account for some ferocious price cutting.
But the point is not where you buy your wine, but that you understand how wine pricing works and that trying wine that you’re not supposed to like will save money. It’s one of the first lessons I learned in wine: if I don’t like chocolate ice cream, why would I buy it because someone told me I was supposed to? So why do we do that with wine?