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The Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t hate expensive wine

winerant

wine curmudgeon expensive wine“So, Jeff,” the conversation begins, “Why don’t you like expensive wine?”

This isn’t the most common question I’ve been asked over the past eight years, but it’s common enough. These days, unfortunately, it’s not only more common, but there’s often an edge in the voice of the person asking it. As in, “So you’d rather drink crappy wine just to prove a point?”

Of course not. I love wine; why would I want to deprive myself of the pleasure it brings, regardless of price? How many times have I bored the cyber-ether with my odes to white Burgundy or Oregon pinot noir?

Because I don’t dislike expensive wine. I dislike poorly-made wine and overpriced wine, where profit is all that matters and quality is barely a consideration. I dislike dishonest wine from producers who use winemaking tricks or marketing sleight of hand to fool the consumer. I dislike pretentious wine, which we’re supposed to like because our betters tell us we should.

Cheap wine can be any of those things just as easily as expensive wine can, and I call out that kind of cheap wine all the time. Hasn’t anyone read my Cupcake reviews?

The difference, wine being wine, is that too many still assume that those qualities can’t possibly apply to the wine they bought for $24.99. After all, it came from a retailer who winked and nodded with them as if they were pals in on a big secret, and didn’t the wine get 93 points from this really smart guy who has the best palate in the world, and which we know because he tells us so?

So when I write something about their wine that they don’t like, as I am wont to do, they assume it’s because I don’t like expensive wine. Otherwise, they’d have to acknowledge that they’ve been suckered by a system as unwinnable as any three-card monte.

Allow me to quote my friend Dave McIntyre, who has said many nice things about me over the years: “Siegel doesn’t equate cheap with bad, like so many others do. He sniffs out inexpensive wines that are well made and provide exceptional value, and his passion is sharing them with the world.”

How can anyone object to that?

More about cheap wine:
Can cheap wine do this?
Cheap wine and wine that is made cheaply
The backlash against cheap wine
Wine I like

 

 

Does cheap wine cost too much money?

Karl Storchmann

Karl Storchmann: "Significant overpricing of mediocre wines."

The answer may well be yes, according to study conducted by one of the leading wine economists in the country. New York University’s Karl Storchmann wanted to find out if scores helped better align the price of wine; that is, do good scores boost prices while bad scores lower the price? Instead, Storchmann, Alexander Mitterling, and Aaron Lee discovered just the opposite.

The key is what Storchmann calls noise – the publicity a good score gives a wine. “The noise raises the quality perception of the wine, and the noise is larger for bad wine,” he told me. In the study, cheap wine is defined as “bad” because it’s less expensive than “good” wine, and better quality wine should cost more.

What happens, says the study, is that a high score for one cheap wine influences the perception of the entire brand, as well as for different vintages – possibly raising the price of every wine in the brand. That means that if Winery X’s 2011 merlot gets a 92, that score gives consumers the idea that the rest of X’s wines, whether chardonnay or zinfandel or whether 2009 or 2010, are equally as good. Which isn’t necessarily the case.

More, after the jump:

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