For Value, Avoid the Familiar

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 12-10-2013

Flickr, John-Morgan.

Flickr, John-Morgan.

As regular readers know, I write a free, twice monthly wine column that’s distributed to newspapers across the country.

These columns are now hosted by Grape Collective. If you don’t see my column in your local newspaper, please send an email to your paper’s editor and CC me (David – at –

In my latest column, I offer some ideas on how to find great wines without breaking the bank.

For Value, Avoid the Familiar

‘Tis the season to party.

With 2014 just a few weeks away, holiday party season is in full swing. So hosts everywhere are assembling menus, fretting about guest lists, and blowing their budgets on decorations.  Fortunately, selecting wines doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive.

Just avoid the familiar. As New York University economics professor Karl Storchmann recently explained to Food & Wine, “[The market] adds a premium for certain places or grapes.”

Consider Champagne.

Under European Union trade laws, wine can only be sold as “Champagne” if it comes from the Champagne region of France and is made in the “traditional method,” which is a very expensive process. While real Champagne is a treat, it’s expensive — even “budget” options cost upwards of $35 per bottle.

Like Champagne, America’s iconic wine regions are pricey. Napa Valley makes some exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon. But it’s nearly impossible to find a decent bottle for less than $35. Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley produces some lovely Chardonnay, but most cost $25 or more.

The list goes on. Trophy regions are almost always expensive.

Fortunately, the world is awash in affordable, great-tasting wine. As Storchmann explained, just as some regions come with a built-in surcharge, others come with a built-in discount. Finding such wines is as easy as opening up your palate to unheralded regions.

Check out the rest of the piece at Grape Collective.

Comments (1)

  1. I definitely agree! You explored the value in location, but how about varietal? Anglianico and tannat for example, make fantastic wines at very reasonable prices. Understanding which locations have terroir to match the varietal is important though. Kind of like making the mistake of trying chenin blanc from Lodi, CA. Recently, I had a tannat from Paso Robles that was excellent and was a reasonable value.