We decided to create the practical consumers guide to understanding wine pricing in terms of car models. Everyone understands pricing and prestige in terms of rolling hunks of metal(aka cars), but not everyone understands the value of different wines. Let’s face it, buying wine is hard, really hard. With over 7,600 wineries in the USA alone, that make at least 5 different wines a year along with the rest of the world… that’s hundreds of thousands of wines released every year!
Wines Are Not Created Equal
We know not all wines are created equal. But does that really mean a $50 wine is 10x better than a $5 wine? Certainly prestige plays a role as does the cost of raw ingredients and ultimately supply/demand trends will dictate prices. However, the majority of wine can be bracketed assuming you are making smart choices.
Wine Pricing Breakdown
<$7 Used Junker of Wine
A wine of inexhaustible supply, mixed from leftovers in a refinery, often manipulated as a consistent mass produced product is important. Wine in this range is designed to just get by, patch working fundamental wine flaws present from using inferior ingredients. That doesn’t mean it can’t taste decent or be functional. Just remember, warranty not included, bought as-is.
<$10 Honda Civic of Wine
A compact, single noted, un-complex wine can be had in this range. It does one thing and it does it fairly well – it’s easy to drink. You won’t find as many flaws and if you do they’ll be less obvious. It will reliably get you where you’re going on a budget. However, you sacrifice nearly all amenities and anything that would make wine remotely unique.
<$15 Toyota Camry of Wine
A great bargain for your money can be had in this range. It’s still likely unsophisticated and single noted but you’re starting to see some creature comforts that go a long way. It’s consistently reliably and the best bang for your buck. It’s not fully loaded and you’ll have to sacrifice one thing or another, but in the end it’ll get you 90% of the way to any other wine listed below.
<$30 BMW 3-Series of Wine
For all intents and purposes this is an exceptionally well made product and you’ll be wholly satisfied. You can get a fully loaded wine with complex rich flavors free of flaws. Availability is bountiful in a range of styles. Wine in this price bracket is more than we practically need in day-to-day activities, rich with luxuries that never leave us disappointed. It’s made to last while at the same time extremely flexible and drinkable.
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<$50 BMW M3 of Wine
A-ha, the first step in diminishing returns. You are starting to pay substantially more for subtle nuanced gains. At this point you’re buying style, performance and a heavily tuned in product which matches specific preferences. This is where character and personality start to play a much larger role in wine. It’s not that the wine is THAT much better than the former, but rather, you’re willing to pay more to get exactly what you want, including sitting on a waiting list for a final product.
<$100 Porsche 911 of Wine
Now we are just talking exotics and nuanced differences. This experience is more about the consumer and less about the wine. The majority of the time these wines go under appreciated and day to day, they just aren’t practical drinking wines. We’ll see people buying them just to show off, wherein these people can’t even taste the difference. Similarly you’ll see people zooming by in their BMW M3 wines having a much better time because they bought what they love and know how to appreciate it.
$100+ Bugatti Venom of Wine
Simply, this is just gratuitous. You can probably find the same performance and quality in a wine from the above group. Here you’re paying for prestige, heritage and limited supply. This range has no limit, it’s more akin to buying popular collectable art than it is to practical wine drinking.
Disagree? Are you a practical wine drinker sucking down Cristal like it’s water? Tell me about it.