How to Find Quality, Affordable Wines

by Gina Blitstein · 1 comment

Many people are confounded and intimidated at the prospect of choosing wine. Few other consumables are imbued with its mysterious aura. We often feel ill-equipped to competently choose wine, mistakenly believing that there’s some secret quality that makes expensive wines “better” than less costly ones. The fact is, there’s a lot more to a good wine than a high price tag; therefore, average consumers can enjoy great wine without spending a fortune. We need to gain a bit of information and confidence in order to discover perfectly lovely wines that will fit in our budgets.

Let’s demystify wine. It’s not that there’s no difference between expensive and less expensive wine. It’s that good wine isn’t some enigmatic, mystical thing, available only to a select, fortunate few with fat wallets. There are affordable, quality wines readily available everywhere. With holidays and festive occasions on the horizon, let’s explore how to find quality, affordable wines.

Confidently choose delightful, affordable wines:

  • First, discover your own taste in wine. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should like – wine preferences are as subjective as any food or beverage. Based on your own experiences, do you prefer reds or whites? Sweet or dry? Attending wine tastings is not only fun but can help you grow your personal experience with different wines and discover your preferences. You may also begin to realize you prefer wines from a particular region, which is another helpful bit of information to use when choosing wines. Once you know what you like, seek out the best wines you can find that fit your criteria.
  • Ask an expert. While you needn’t be an expert yourself, there’s every reason to employ the wisdom of someone in the know. Not everyone who works at a wine shop or liquor store knows about wine, but some do. Ask around until you find someone whose judgement – and attitude – about wine you trust. Tell them your preferences and ask them to steer you toward wines that fit them. They’ll be able to recommend “boutique” labels that are lesser-known. Rather than being off-brands, these wines are simply produced by smaller vineyards which produce a quality product while avoiding the overhead of advertising incumbent upon a big brand.
  • Feel confident and fly solo. Eventually, bolstered by an awareness of your personal preferences and the knowledge gained from your favorite experts, you’ll be able to make your own wine choices in the marketplace.

When purchasing wines yourself, remember:

  • Wine is a global pleasure. People the world over produce and consume delightful, affordable wines every day. France, Italy and California are NOT the only places that produce wonderful wines. Phenomenal wines are produced in Chile, Argentina, Austria, Greece, South Africa, Israel and, believe it or not, Long Island, NY.
  • Do a little research. Wine making is a tradition that’s passed from generation to generation. Look into a new brand and you may learn it has a rich history. Often a relative or protege of a distinguished winemaker will branch out on their own, producing fine quality wines offered at lower prices than the “parent” vineyard’s offerings.
  • Diversify your retailer. Companies like Cost Plus World Market and Trader Joe’s carry International brands that are not sold in most American stores but represent great quality wines at bargain prices.

Wine is meant to be enjoyed – not to cause feelings of inadequacy. Once you know what they are, you can find the elements you love in wine at a price you can afford. Just remember, quality and affordability are not mutually exclusive.

Where do you find quality, affordable wines?

Bonus Tip:

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Phyllis Cook August 17, 2012 at 8:08 am

I couldn’t agree more. But there is another option. Making your own, or having it made for you. In my shop I produce wines for people from wonderful vineyards, including many of the countries you mentioned. The main thing I stress is to purchase high quality product. The cost will be always very affordable. For instance, I’m offering a Merlot from the Stag’s Leap district of CA at 30 bottles for $199. Yet if you look on our LCBO (Ontario liquor) site, the price for a 2008 is $39.95 each bottle. How’s that for good value?

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