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Update: How much should an everyday wine cost?

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Update: How much should an everyday wine cost?How much should an everyday wine cost? Between $5 and $12, according to the poll that ran on the blog and that you can find at the bottom of this post. Thanks to everyone who participated. Several thoughts about the results:

• The $5 to $12 range, of course, is completely at odds with the wine industry’s view of how much everyday wine should cost — $12 to $18. That range came in second, but it wasn’t particularly close. Yes, this was not a scientific effort with margins of error, and yes, the results were almost certainly skewed because it was hosted by someone whose reason for being is cheap wine. But I was still surprised. I thought $12 to $18 would win, because that’s what the experts keep telling me wine drinkers want. But sometimes even I forget wine drinkers are usually smarter than the experts.

• Ultra-cheap wine, less than $5, finished fourth, barely ahead of expensive wine. This was also surprising, given how much of this wine is sold each year — some 5 million cases annually for just Two-buck Chuck, the $2.99 (or whatever) wine sold by Trader Joe’s. Either $5 fans didn’t do the poll, or many consumers see Two-buck Chuck and its ilk as something to keep in the fridge when they want a glass, but not necessarily something to open when they want a bottle of wine with dinner.

• Fewer than 2 percent of the votes were cast for expensive wine. Which also surprised me. I guess I need to remember why I do this and why so many people read what I do.

• The comments were almost as much fun as the poll, thoughtful and well-written (you can find them at the link at the top of the post). How about the guy who makes his own wine so he doesn’t have to pay for it? Or the several intelligent discussions about wine quality and price? Which is another reminder that the wine business misses an opportunity when it underestimates the intelligence of its customers.

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Winebits 334: Wine prices and the Winestream Media

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Winebits 334: Wine prices and the Winestream MediaIt’s all about real estate: The Women for Wine Sense Napa Sonoma website (now there’s a URL) breaks down the price of a bottle of California cabernet sauvignon, and the cost of land makes up much of the difference between cheap and expensive. “Everything else being equal, Cabernet from the Stag’s Leap AVA costs more than Cabernet from Lodi.” This is something that can’t be harped on enough, and is a key part of the cheap wine book. The other question the article poses: “Is the $50 wine really over 200% better than the $15 bottle or are you just paying to finance the winery’s fancy tasting room?” Heavens, doesn’t the author know it’s not polite to ask those things in California?

Another record harvest? There’s good news and bad news for wine prices, courtesy of Rob McMillan at Silicon Valley Bank, perhaps the world’s leading authority on the subject. Despite a record drought, California is on track for another huge harvest in 2014, which will almost certainly lower grape prices. But McMillan isn’t sure that will translate into lower wine prices, given the price increases producers haven’t taken over the past couple of years. The 2014 vintage may be about restoring margins, which have suffered since 2008 and the beginning of the recession. If that happens, then – as one astute blog visitor pointed out earlier this year — the hunt for great cheap wine, as opposed to just cheap wine, will become even harder next year.

Wine writing’s Cold War: Those of you too young to remember the collapse of the Soviet Union might be a little confused by this interview with Chateau Montelena’s Bo Barrett (who apparently was the only person happy with the casting for the movie “Bottle Shock”). In it, he compares the current feud between the old Winestream Media, like Robert Parker, and the new Winestream Media, like Jon Bonne, to the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviets, which lasted some 40 years. It’s an interesting take, and one I hadn’t considered: “You’re either with the Soviet Union or you’re with the USA and NATO.  What happen is as that broke down you have this global anarchy, and that’s what I see with the Internet has created this democracy where people are voting with their feet, and the freedom to choose their own wines and different styles of wines has never been better.” Who knew we’d ever see NATO, the military alliance that includes the U.S. and western Europe, mentioned in a wine story?

How much should an everyday wine cost?

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everyday wine costThe Wine Curmudgeon, working through his tasting notes on CellarTracker (the blog’s unofficial wine inventory web app) found this January comment for the 2007 Robert Mondavi Oakville cabernet sauvignon: “Nice every day wine at this price point.” The price? $45. Is that how much an everyday wine should cost?

Which raises one of the most contentious issues in wine, and one that doesn’t get enough discussion: How much should an everyday wine cost? This CellarTracker user (and no, I’m not going to name names) figures that an everyday wine runs the cost of a car payment each month, $315, and you only get to drink wine seven week nights a month to ring up that total. Even Eric Asimov at the New York Times, whose savvy is as good as it gets, figures discerning drinkers need to spend as much as half of that, in the $18 or $20 a bottle range.

My views on this are well known: One reason Americans don’t drink more wine is that we’re told we have to spend too much money to do so, and so we don’t. Or, as the guy who checked me out in a grocery store several years ago said, when he saw that I had bought several bottles of $10 wine: “Why are you spending so much money on wine?” And he didn’t say it nicely, either.

But my views aren’t the only ones. Hence this poll, courtesy of Ranker (the blog’s unofficial polling app): How much should an everyday wine cost? Click on the respective price range — those of you who get the blog via email may have come to the site to vote. The poll will run until May 22, and I’ll recap the results on May 24. Vote away, and don’t be shy about leaving your opinion in the comments.

Lists on Ranker

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