Author Topic: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine  (Read 14234 times)

merula

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #50 on: November 28, 2016, 09:45:04 AM »
$20 for a bottle of wine in the USA seems very expensive given how cheap food seems to be.

Relative to other countries I've been to, meat, dairy and packaged foods are cheaper in the US than elsewhere. Produce is more expensive than China, Mexico and Spain, but less expensive than the UK, France, Canada or Germany. Off-sale alcohol (that is, alcohol sold in a store, not in a restaurant or bar) is more expensive than anywhere but the London area.

Part of that is the vice taxes on alcohol, I think.

Guses

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #51 on: November 28, 2016, 10:37:03 AM »
$20 for a bottle of wine in the USA seems very expensive given how cheap food seems to be.

Relative to other countries I've been to, meat, dairy and packaged foods are cheaper in the US than elsewhere. Produce is more expensive than China, Mexico and Spain, but less expensive than the UK, France, Canada or Germany. Off-sale alcohol (that is, alcohol sold in a store, not in a restaurant or bar) is more expensive than anywhere but the London area.

Part of that is the vice taxes on alcohol, I think.

Wine purchased in a store is much cheaper in the US than in Canada, even taking into account the value of the CAD$.

Two buck chuck is like 10 bucks here (if they sold it here, that is).

4alpacas

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #52 on: November 28, 2016, 11:08:56 AM »
Interesting.  Are there any other pointers to avoid what you're talking about?  I'm wondering about wines that are mass-produced, ubiquitous and sold around the world.  Are you talking about blended wines?  What about the bigger names in lower-priced wines (e.g., Mouton Cadet)?  What about vinho verdes from Portugal?

What are the hallmarks of a lower-priced offerings from a region that were manhandled?  This is an honest question - I'm not sure I would know what to look for.

I'll try to break down the basics without getting too nerdy about it. 

Blends and varietals are both susceptible to poor wine quality issues and undesirable quick fixes.  Producers will not disclose their less attractive practices and salespeople will lie (so emails will not help).

Mouton Cadet and vinho verde are two great examples to break down though.

Let's take Mouton Cadet first.  It's a Bordeaux that retails for about $11.99.  Bordeaux wines can be some of the most expensive in the world and prices can range from the aforementioned $11.99 to $5k+.  I would say that an average good Bordeaux costs $75/btl.  Now I've never tasted Mouton Cadet so this is speculation but I do not think it is a reach to say that they started with the lowest quality fruit or new wine in the Bordeaux region.  Or else, one of the producers charging more for their end product wine would have purchased the fruit/new wine for more money than Mouton Cadet would pay.  Therefore, there is a high chance that the wine has been altered through methods I would find undesirable to make that lower quality fruit/wine into something inoffensive.  For example, dollars to donuts, I'm sure they use oak dust instead of oak barrels.

Next, the vinho verde- a personal summer favorite of mine.  Vinho verde is a type of wine produced in northern Portugal.  Portugal is one of the cheapest countries to produce wine in Europe and vinho verde is a fast, inexpensive wine to produce.  I would estimate that their prices range from $5 to $25.  A $12 bottle of vinho verde, as opposed to our Bordeaux above, would probably be a good example of its type and would have most probably been made from quality fruit and processed well without major issue. So, this bottle of wine would probably not have many, if any, additives added to it. 

So, to avoid wines that have been manhandled takes a little bit of time and maybe a bit of google. Avoid the cheapest wines from a region; there's a reason they are cheap.  Your biggest names can be the least expensive but not necessarily.  The bigger producers will have a greater chance of using a lot of "science" in their winemaking though- they want their wine to be uniform across vintages and can afford the more expensive equipment like the Velcorin.  So if you have two identically priced wines from the same region, one from a tiny producer and one from a large one, chances are the tiny producer is putting less additives in their wine.   

Now, let's say you are a fan of Mouton Cadet and are disappointed to hear that there is a likely chance they are doing things to the wine you are not crazy about.  Then look for a place that makes a similar style wine at a lessor cost so good quality is less expensive on average.  If you want to stay in France, then I would recommend Jura.  And for worldwide right bank Bordeaux-style then Chile who can throw out merlots like the best of them. 

HTH!
Awesome information.  You should start a thread about how to choose a nice, but inexpensive bottle of wine through geography.  :)

gimp

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #53 on: November 28, 2016, 05:59:15 PM »
According to a wine book that I have at home, you are supposed to do this with expensive wines. Every 25 years or so. Haven't read this in other places.

For me personally it is not an issue. We don't invest in wines. In our new house we don't have a cellar, so we have bought a cooled wine closet. It would have been cheaper with a good cellar. And we looked for a long time for a second hand one and couldn't find one of the right size. But we only keep wines for some years until we drink them.

Oh well that explains it. I don't know much about storing wine for 25 years, so I head never heard of this. Thanks.

farmecologist

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #54 on: November 30, 2016, 02:07:20 PM »

This documentary was great!  It really shows how ridiculous the 'expensive wine market' really is.  Wine snobs drive me nuts though..so maybe I enjoyed it more than most.

When you think about it, wine is really just 'aged adult grape juice'.  I really don't understand the mystique about it.   

Personally, I think Trader Joes has many great wines for $5-$6 a bottle. 

tralfamadorian

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #55 on: November 30, 2016, 03:31:20 PM »
Awesome information.  You should start a thread about how to choose a nice, but inexpensive bottle of wine through geography.  :)

Aw, thanks 4alpacas!  I'm up to ears now in holiday orders (my side gig) but I'll try to find the time in a few weeks.

4alpacas

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #56 on: November 30, 2016, 04:24:33 PM »
Awesome information.  You should start a thread about how to choose a nice, but inexpensive bottle of wine through geography.  :)

Aw, thanks 4alpacas!  I'm up to ears now in holiday orders (my side gig) but I'll try to find the time in a few weeks.
Awesome!  I'll start stalking your posts  :)

gimp

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #57 on: December 01, 2016, 09:03:21 PM »
When you think about it, wine is really just 'aged adult grape juice'.  I really don't understand the mystique about it.   

Fermented grape juice, not necessarily aged. :)

Ironically, it was historically actually fairly hard to make grape juice - doing so reliably is a fairly recent invention. If you smush some grapes and bottle the juice, you'll end up with wine unless you take extra steps.

babysnowbyrd

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #58 on: December 02, 2016, 12:53:25 PM »
Reminds me of the Sommelier episode from Parks and Rec where April pretends to be a sommelier just for fun:

https://youtu.be/ZF_xg4QaLNE

partgypsy

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #59 on: December 05, 2016, 01:30:08 PM »
I talked to my father. He has been in the restaurant business his adult life, self-taught, and often was the one choosing the wine for the restaurant. He and his extended family used to make wine. I mentioned how I like $5-10 bottles, and he said that was too cheap, and to look for $15-20 bottles. Said he enjoys wine but it is too expensive to drink regularly. I guess I should have asked what he likes. He is one of the few people I would trust actually can tell the difference between a bad and good bottle of wine. For fun will buy multiple bottles of a certain place, year, and open them on successive anniversaries to see how they taste.

I'm a red panda

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #60 on: December 05, 2016, 02:44:14 PM »
"When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine "

Isn't the expertise of the careful blending what allows them to charge more?  If it wasn't carefully blended, it would taste like crap.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #61 on: December 05, 2016, 03:11:00 PM »
"When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine "

Isn't the expertise of the careful blending what allows them to charge more?  If it wasn't carefully blended, it would taste like crap.

Not really. If you start with decent grapes and yeast, sterilize your gear, and go through the right steps with the water and sugar in the right proportions and with everything within a reasonable temperature range, the wine will turn out at least OK, proportionate to the quality of the grapes.

Any reasonable sized commercial operation is going to combine wine from multiple barrels just to get a standard flavor for each year. It will vary from year to year depending on the growing conditions. Some years the grapes are going to taste different. Maybe there's too much rain or too little. Maybe they are hit with the wrong kind of fungus. If it's a bad harvest, you may not be able to afford the best grapes. Then of course there's process. Maybe something gets goofed up and a step gets missed. Someone forgets to sterilize the gear, or a disgruntled employee pees in your primary fermenter. Maybe you lose power to your HVAC system, your yeast mutates, or some dumbass ages a batch of wine in the wrong barrels. It can change the taste of the end results. When this happens, you will have the kind of problem that MIGHT be correctable by an expert vintner who knows how to add eye of newt to compensate for excess toe of frog. (An amateur like me is basically screwed.)

For some, the solution to pollution ends up being dilution. I'm not saying it's fair or right, I'm saying it's an alternative to throwing out the entire vat of product and a big part of your year's gross income.

farmecologist

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #62 on: December 06, 2016, 08:34:17 AM »
I talked to my father. He has been in the restaurant business his adult life, self-taught, and often was the one choosing the wine for the restaurant. He and his extended family used to make wine. I mentioned how I like $5-10 bottles, and he said that was too cheap, and to look for $15-20 bottles. Said he enjoys wine but it is too expensive to drink regularly. I guess I should have asked what he likes. He is one of the few people I would trust actually can tell the difference between a bad and good bottle of wine. For fun will buy multiple bottles of a certain place, year, and open them on successive anniversaries to see how they taste.

I guess it is all in what you like - everyone is different.  However, to say that $5-$10 bottles are 'too cheap' is a bit ridiculous. 

I have had plenty of 'mid priced' wines and many of them were terrible ( to me ).  In fact, I often like the 'cheaper' bottles more!  The beauty of this is that I can try many more varieties than at a much lower price...This way I can find something I truly like.

I feel that far to many people fall into the 'expensive wine trap'...telling themselves that they WILL like it ( due to cost, etc.. ).

I guess I'm fortunate to have a 'cheap' taste in wine... :-)



 




 

Metric Mouse

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #63 on: December 12, 2016, 03:33:33 AM »
I talked to my father. He has been in the restaurant business his adult life, self-taught, and often was the one choosing the wine for the restaurant. He and his extended family used to make wine. I mentioned how I like $5-10 bottles, and he said that was too cheap, and to look for $15-20 bottles. Said he enjoys wine but it is too expensive to drink regularly. I guess I should have asked what he likes. He is one of the few people I would trust actually can tell the difference between a bad and good bottle of wine. For fun will buy multiple bottles of a certain place, year, and open them on successive anniversaries to see how they taste.

I guess it is all in what you like - everyone is different.  However, to say that $5-$10 bottles are 'too cheap' is a bit ridiculous. 

I have had plenty of 'mid priced' wines and many of them were terrible ( to me ).  In fact, I often like the 'cheaper' bottles more!  The beauty of this is that I can try many more varieties than at a much lower price...This way I can find something I truly like.

I feel that far to many people fall into the 'expensive wine trap'...telling themselves that they WILL like it ( due to cost, etc.. ).

I guess I'm fortunate to have a 'cheap' taste in wine... :-)

I can't buy good wine to save my life. I have my two or so cheap 'go-tos' if I need something for a party, but outside of that I've struck out as often as I have scored.  Just not an avenue I'm super interested in dedicating a lot of resources to.


gimp

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #65 on: December 12, 2016, 02:19:25 PM »
Speaking of cheap wine, you get get 5L of ~14% red wine for about $9-10 here.

5L at 14% is 700mL of pure ethanol; that's 70mL ethanol per $1.

As far as I know, there is literally no cheaper way to drink in the US.

The cheapest liquor I've ever seen, which I did actually buy a bottle of, was 40% ethanol @ 750ML @ $5. (Distiller's Pride bourbon - it was actually totally okay bourbon, for $5, I'd buy more.)

That works out to 60mL ethanol per $1, pretty close, but still not as cheap as box wine.

TL;DR Buy the highest proof, cheapest box wine, and you'll get drunk cheaper than literally any other option on the market (that I know of.)

Metric Mouse

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #66 on: December 13, 2016, 06:20:50 AM »
Speaking of cheap wine, you get get 5L of ~14% red wine for about $9-10 here.

5L at 14% is 700mL of pure ethanol; that's 70mL ethanol per $1.

As far as I know, there is literally no cheaper way to drink in the US.

The cheapest liquor I've ever seen, which I did actually buy a bottle of, was 40% ethanol @ 750ML @ $5. (Distiller's Pride bourbon - it was actually totally okay bourbon, for $5, I'd buy more.)

That works out to 60mL ethanol per $1, pretty close, but still not as cheap as box wine.

TL;DR Buy the highest proof, cheapest box wine, and you'll get drunk cheaper than literally any other option on the market (that I know of.)

I don't go in liquor stores very often, but I don't think I've ever been in one where they didn't have 1.75L of 80 proof for 8-10 bucks. That's 87.5ml/$1 or a 25% savings.

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #67 on: December 13, 2016, 07:37:49 AM »

TL;DR Buy the highest proof, cheapest box wine, and you'll get drunk cheaper than literally any other option on the market (that I know of.)

Is the purpose of drinking to get drunk though? I know very few people who get drunk when they drink.

merula

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #68 on: December 13, 2016, 09:06:44 AM »

TL;DR Buy the highest proof, cheapest box wine, and you'll get drunk cheaper than literally any other option on the market (that I know of.)

Is the purpose of drinking to get drunk though? I know very few people who get drunk when they drink.

Sounds like you're drinking with boring "classy" people...

MgoSam

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #69 on: December 13, 2016, 09:25:03 AM »

TL;DR Buy the highest proof, cheapest box wine, and you'll get drunk cheaper than literally any other option on the market (that I know of.)

Is the purpose of drinking to get drunk though? I know very few people who get drunk when they drink.

Sounds like you're drinking with boring "classy" people...

This reminds me of my college days and a game we called Slap Bag. The person who finishes the bag/box gets to keep the dispenser as a trophy, one time a friend of mine wanted it so badly he ran off with it while there was still a good chunk left and hid from us while he chugged it.

farmecologist

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #70 on: December 13, 2016, 12:01:43 PM »

TL;DR Buy the highest proof, cheapest box wine, and you'll get drunk cheaper than literally any other option on the market (that I know of.)

Is the purpose of drinking to get drunk though? I know very few people who get drunk when they drink.

Sounds like you're drinking with boring "classy" people...


And there are also those "classy people" who drink (way too much) wine because it is "good for you".   


gimp

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #71 on: December 13, 2016, 05:51:00 PM »
I don't go in liquor stores very often, but I don't think I've ever been in one where they didn't have 1.75L of 80 proof for 8-10 bucks. That's 87.5ml/$1 or a 25% savings.

I've been to many liquor stores, never seen it that cheap. Where do you live? And what does your store charge for a box of wine?

Metric Mouse

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #72 on: December 14, 2016, 05:52:47 AM »
No idea. I don't go in very often and have never priced out boxed wine.  Maybe I'll make a trip and report back.

BTDretire

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #73 on: December 14, 2016, 10:31:40 AM »
Am I the only one who find sub$20 wine are mostly one note wine that is not balanced? Pls recommend some of your favorite so I can join in on the cheap wine club.

  Boones Farm Wine!
Oh, wait, that was 45 years ago.
Never mind.

Metric Mouse

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #74 on: December 17, 2016, 05:29:15 AM »
  Boones Farm Wine!
Oh, wait, that was 45 years ago.
Never mind.

Oh my... this stuff is terrible... Maybe I am a secret wine snob, but Boones Farm is (to me) a waste of money - it's not enjoyable to drink, and the alcohol content is not high enough to compensate for that.

BuffaloStache

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #75 on: December 17, 2016, 04:42:25 PM »
^ +1, and I'd also add that Franzia is in a similar category. Although the alcohol content is a little higher, so YMMV.

Spork

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Re: When your expensive wine is actually just carefully blended cheap wine
« Reply #76 on: December 17, 2016, 04:59:17 PM »
$20 for a bottle of wine in the USA seems very expensive given how cheap food seems to be.

Maybe I have terrible taste but living in a high cost of living city in a high cost of living country (Australia), $10-15 gets a perfectly reasonable bottle.

We have a bottle shop here that only sells cleanskins. Most come from nearby wineries and are $15-30+ bottles packaged in cheap bottles with minimal labels and sold in the $8-17 price range. They'll even let you try before you buy.

FWIW: I'm in the US.  We pay $20 when we want "the good stuff to celebrate."  Hell, the majority of the time we drink "nice" boxed wine. ;)

I've been forcing myself to buy a $10-15 bottle of "good" wine every time we go to the grocery store because I've finally come to realize we saved too much and will likely never spend it all.