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AFKitchenknivesguy
12-28-2012, 11:54 PM
I've always been pretty knowledgeable of the food world, with one exception: wine. I was in a wine store today talking to the clerk, and although he was helpful I found him to be stretching in some of my questions. One of the main questions I had for him was, at what price point do you find the rate of diminishing returns with wine? I understand a $500 wine will likely be much better than a $25 one. But is a $75 one much better than a $25 one? Putting country origin, styles, grapes, and such out of play, what are some fairly readily available wines do you suggest? Up to this point, i've been a drink what I like guy but I would like to spread my wings. Snobs are welcome!

EdipisReks
12-29-2012, 12:04 AM
the only way to become knowledgable about wine is to drink a lot of wine. a lot. a $500 bottle is not all that likely to be better than a $75, btw, at least when it comes to French wine. hype is a thing.

jmforge
12-29-2012, 12:04 AM
There are some wines that are CLEARLY in another class even to the uneducated pallet. Unfortunately, most of the time, they are in another price class. The trick is finding the really good ones that are still cheap. When people first rediscovered Malbecs, some of the really good Argentine ones could be had for $10 a bottle or less. Not so much now and I think that the quality has slipped a little since they got hot, much like the quality of some cigars slipped in the early to mid 90's when the demand for them exploded. With that said, with some careful shopping, $75 can get you a pretty damn good wine from places like California. it used to get you the second tier wines from French vineyards. like Forts de Latour which were damn fine, but I am not sure about that now, especially with what they are asking for the first growth stuff..

mc2442
12-29-2012, 12:07 AM
I would say that over $100 definitely has diminishing returns, but it probably starts well benenth that. One of the good things that came out of the recession was the way over the top wine snobbery that was going on changed into most people seeking better value as almost everyone dropped a price range or two. People that would drink $80-100 bottles on a regular basis lowered to $50, and so on. A lot more people looking for the good $10-25 bottles of wine. I normally stay in the $15-30 range, though I am very cyclical on how often I drink.

apicius9
12-29-2012, 12:11 AM
I will leave specific recommendations to others, I have been out of the wine game for too long. And, of course, there are no fixed rules. But I always refused to spend more than $100 for a single bottle of wine and only made very few exceptions to that - only one of which was worth it without any doubt (Chateau d'Yquem 1990 half bottle). You can clearly find excellent wines in the $20-30 range, beyond that, enjoyment clearly correlates with experience IMHO. You will also develop preferences with experience. This can become a whole new obsession, so be careful ;) I always found it most helpful to focus on one area for a while and drink a range of different ones, like Spanish reds in a certain price range from different regions or different grapes from the same region etc. At least I learned that way what my general preferences are. A $500 burgundy is wasted on me, I just don't understand or like pinots enough.

To come back to the ROI, I always found the curve to flatten out considerably before I got to $100. Of course, most Bordeaux drinkers will laugh at me ;) But for $100 you almost get a decent bottle of Single Malt :)

Stefan

AFKitchenknivesguy
12-29-2012, 01:07 AM
Ironically I lived near the Rhein river and wine country for three years in Germany in my early twenties. I was just too young to appreciate the wonderful wines. I did live in Bitburg and could see the Bitburger factory from my apartment.

jmforge
12-29-2012, 01:14 AM
LOL. I was in Germany for about 6 months back in the 80's and never tried the wine. Too busy trying as much of the beer as I could.
Ironically I lived near the Rhein river and wine country for three years in Germany in my early twenties. I was just too young to appreciate the wonderful wines. I did live in Bitburg and could see the Bitburger factory from my apartment.

mhlee
12-29-2012, 01:51 AM
I'm getting back in the wine game now - been out of it for a few years. But I still feel the same way as before - wherever your price point is, finding good wine is just a matter of diligence, it just requires more at the low end, and less as you go up in price.

However, I will also say that it totally depends on the wine you're looking for. I don't think you can not look at where the wine comes from, etc. to say that there's a universal price point where there's diminishing returns.

Over the past few years, from what I observed, it was really difficult to find basic, decent French wines for under $15 because of the strength of the Euro. I completely quit trying to buy reasonably priced Bordeauxs because of this. So, I would say with French wines, and especially Champagne, where the number of bottles available under $30 is extremely limited (excluding sale prices), your ROI or where you start seeing diminishing returns might be higher than, say, German Rieslings, where I've found a number of really excellent drinking wines for under $30.

But, for example, a friend (who works for a wine store) pointed me to the J. Lassalle Preference NV Champagne. It's $29.99 and it's a killer deal. I would rather buy a case of this stuff, than 3 - 6 bottles of some higher end Champagnes.

I've always also tended to focus on good years; you'll have to hunt more for better wines in off years. Getting to recommendations, for Alsatian wines, I would still recommend recommend the big players like Zind-Humbrecht, Hugel, Schlumberger, Schoffit. They're consistent in quality and stylistically. For Pinot Noirs, eh - go with a good maker's lower wines. I've been buying Williams-Selyem because I'm on their list and their lower priced wines are in the $40 range and are excellent, if you can find them. I don't drink many Cabernet Sauvignons anymore, or Chardonnays for that matter.

Just off the top of my head, these are wines I've always liked that are reasonable: Bogle Phantom, Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre (haven't had this in a while but it was always consistent), Macrostie Chardonnay (again, haven't had this in a while, but always consistent), Domaine J. Laurens Cremant de Limoux (sparkling wine). If you want to take a step up to the $30-$50 range, I can recommend Delamotte NV Brut Champagne, the aforementioned J. Lassalle, vintage Laurent-Perrier Champagne and Louis Roederer Champagne in good years, Pierre Gimmonet NV Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Miura Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir, anything of Linne Calodo that you can find in this price range (the maker is my friend, but I stand by his wines - they're consistently really good), Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay, Williams Selyem Pinot Noirs (again, if you can find them). (Yeah, I like Champagne. I tend to prefer foods that happen to match well with Champagne; for the occasional beef or lamb, I'll definitely drink reds.)

Stylistically, I like balanced wines, so these may not necessarily be your cup of tea. But, like Stefan pointed out - you can buy a lot of other nice stuff for $100.

Good luck!

mr drinky
12-29-2012, 02:08 AM
I think you should always be able to get a superb/outstanding wine in the $45-60 range if you look properly -- but of course it is very possible to find mediocre wine in this price range if you stray down the wrong path. And excellent wines in the $25-45 range are many and the easiest to find. But frankly, value hunting for wines in the $15-25 range is the most fun of all I think.

With that said, I rarely get my wines from physical wine stores or take their recommendations. In most wine stores, I don't find the sales staff that knowledgeable and the sales people will usually recommend wines they have tried -- but in bigger stores that may only be 10-20% of the bottles on offer (if that) and even then they will not have tried them in every vintage. So you are basically filtering your wine selection through a particular person's taste who may have only tried one in ten bottles in the store. That's a pretty limiting experience IMO and more often than not leads to mediocre wine.

Of course, there are some great stores out there too that are truly gems, and you can learn a lot from them and drink some great wine, but I find them fewer and fewer these days. As wine has exploded in the US, there is more crap wine knowledge than good advice out there. I order 90% of my wine online where I can sort, search, and filter wines in a way that matches my taste. There are even some wine stores that update their inventory hourly and let you download it in excel. Then you set up the filters and go to town on a treasure hunt. I love those places. I also order a good portion of my wine directly from wineries. Find a really good producer in your price range and try their selection of wines for a couple of years. I find it is a great way to try wines.

Now back to my Duckhorn split ;)

k.

bprescot
12-29-2012, 02:22 AM
We've had some fun hunting for great wines at Trader Joe's. Well, maybe "great" isn't the right word. More like "totally worth the money and maybe then some" wines. Should be findable (provided you have a TJ's that does wine) and very affordable.

Current favorites:
Tribunal Red
Liberte Cabernet Sauvignon
Liberte Pinot Noir
Sauvignon Republic Marlboro Sauvignon Blanc

Plenty of great wines for more money, but as drinky said, the fun part is finding the great ones for low prices.

bieniek
12-29-2012, 05:02 AM
Read a book. Get a basic knowledge of the most popular grape varieties and search yourself. Noone can promise the wine called good will actually taste good to you.

What I used to do was buying 5-6 bottles, same colour different grape and try them/compare. Hopefully you will start to find connection between grape variety and your preference. But yeah, drink drink drink

Up until you dont marry ultra tannic wine with bitter food for example, you should have fun.

eaglerock
12-29-2012, 08:49 AM
I recommend watching Jancis Robinson's Wine Course dvds :)

Salty dog
12-29-2012, 09:18 AM
Get an app for your phone. Handy little tool when blindly picking. Go to wine tastings. It's a good way to try several wines and knowledgeable people are doing the pouring.

Beware of collecting. I don't know about you but I tend to collect stuff. It can get expensive and stupid.

After decades in the fine dining biz I've tried a ton of wine. When it's all said and done I drink what I like and it's usually in the $20-$30 price range (Wholesale)

If you want to blow your mind go to the Food and Wine Festival in Aspen (Ususally in June) Pricey but you could literally taste at least a thousand different wines.

@ Stefan, I've been sitting on a D'yquem 90 for about ten years now. One of these days............

Eric
12-29-2012, 02:59 PM
Start reading and tasting. Wine spectator used to be pretty good, just take the numbers with a grain of salt. They often have features on a region with focus on several representative makers. Costco is also a good place to start. They have big selection of good wines. I would avoid trader joes. Hone in on your preferences, learn about predominant characteristics of various grapes, regions etc. you do not need to nor would I advise spending a lot per bottle- good examples of most varietals to be had for 20-30 per bottle. It just takes time, education and an open mind. Good luck.

sachem allison
12-29-2012, 03:14 PM
drink what you like no matter the price point. If you love two buck chuck drink, that if you love amarone drink that. unless you are a collector why waste the money unless it's for a special occasion.

mano
12-29-2012, 03:17 PM
Pick a grape, drink different wines that have it and learn what you like. You'll figure out what styles, countries and regions you prefer. Read the ratings and google everything and see what fits your wallet and palate. Go to tastings, buy online and if you really like something buy a case.

When it comes to recommendations and ratings you'll figure out who you like and who to ignore.

Start with low tannic wines with easy to grow grapes like Tempranillo, blends of syrah/shiraz and Grenache. Try zinfandel.

In the $15 range check out:
Acustic Montsant (Spain, carignan and garnacha blend)
Sogrape Calabriga Duoro Red (Portugal),
T-Sanzo Tempranillo Roble (Spain),
Apothic (California zin, merlot, syrah and cab blend)
Seghesio zinfandel

For the regular wino finding a great $30 wine is the goal, but for people with money some expensive wines are nirvana. If you have the dough some tiny California wineries are putting out $75-$200 wines that rival first growth Bordeaux at 3x the price.
Vine Hill Ranch (If a $150 bottle can ever be considered a bargain, this is it. Outstanding)
Hourglass (Best Merlot I’ve had)
Vineyardist
Ovid ($200 for their regular cab, a group of us liked the $100 2006 Ovid Experiment 9.36 just as much)
Seven Stones
Aaron Pott
Bruce Philips
Switchback Ridge (Same winemaker and 30 yards away from Hourglass at $20 less a bottle of merlot)
Peter Michael
Schrader

We recently drank the ’89 and ’90 d’Yquem Sauternes. Both were outstanding but the ’90 was better.

apicius9
12-29-2012, 03:32 PM
@ Stefan, I've been sitting on a D'yquem 90 for about ten years now. One of these days............

I sprang for a half bottle when I turned 40 and drank it with my wine friends. I was fortunate enough to try quite a few very nice German dessert wines and a few Sauternes, but this was really standing out of all the dessert wines I had.

Stefan

mpukas
12-29-2012, 03:54 PM
Pretty much what Salty, Son & Bieniek said.

Drink, listen, read, learn, ask questions, and drink some more. Drink what you like, and don’t get caught up in the hype. There are so may nice wines out there, but there’s also so so much hype and BS. Is a $150 bottle better than a $25 bottle? Not necessarily…

Being a private chef, I’ve had clients that drop bombs on wine, and I’ve gotten to try quite a few really nice wines. Only one was remarkable that stands out – ’79 Grand Vin de Chateau La Tour. There have been lots of other really nice wines, too.

One rule of thumb another good friend who’s a pretty good wine buff and I have – only drink one really nice bottle of wine at a time, and have it before you have ANYTHING else. After that it’s a waste.

Wine tastings can be fun, but after about 4-5-6 wines I’m overwhelmed.

Many of my friends that know wine are going with Old World wines rather than New World wines from Cali, South America & Australia. Some New Word wines have been getting a bad rap for being made with big bold, fruit forward and sweet flavor profiles – they’re being dubbed as made for uneducated people who are easily wowed and impressed.

mpukas
12-29-2012, 04:05 PM
Beware hype (http://www.drvino.com/2008/08/19/fictitious-restaurant-wins-wine-spectator-award-of-excellence/)

bikehunter
12-29-2012, 04:25 PM
Find a local wine shop run by folks who know their butts from a jug of cider. Google wine clubs. Colorado Springs has a number of them. Try to find one which is a real club...that is....just people who get together, taste and share their thoughts and their lucky finds...and DON'T necessarily sell wine. It shouldn't take long for you to discover your own tastes.

chinacats
12-29-2012, 04:59 PM
Many of my friends that know wine are going with Old World wines rather than New World wines from Cali, South America & Australia. Some New Word wines have been getting a bad rap for being made with big bold, fruit forward and sweet flavor profiles – they’re being dubbed as made for uneducated people who are easily wowed and impressed.

Old world wines do seem to have more finesse than some of the 'big' Cali wines. I'm not so sure about the uneducated part though as everyone's tastes vary and there are more than a few aficionados who dig big wines.

Only other thing that should be added to this is to find a place that has a knowledgeable buyer--you'll find better low-end wines (15-40$) more consistency than buying from some of the larger box stores.

Cheers!

mhlee
12-29-2012, 05:39 PM
Beware hype (http://www.drvino.com/2008/08/19/fictitious-restaurant-wins-wine-spectator-award-of-excellence/)

Yeah, the Award of Excellence is, for the most part, BS. I remember when a friend of mine who was a manager of an LA restaurant was applying for the Award of Excellence around 2005. Granted, the restaurant had a relatively nice wine list, but all he had to do was mail a bunch of stuff in and pay the fee.

AFKitchenknivesguy
12-29-2012, 05:51 PM
Wow a lot of great advice. I do have some basic knowledge. I've read books, especially when I lived in Germany. I brought back 150 wines from local wineries (and not the sweet stuff); so I had great wines (I kept them at my mothers house, and she sold bottles to doctors in the hospital she worked at...apparently at $30 it was a bargain to them). I certainly know the differences between merlot, shiraz, pinoit noir, cabernet, etc and how they are supposed to match up with food. It's the practical application and general opinions I find most interesting! Plus, tips and lessons learned are always awesome. I knew we had some very knowledgeable people here.

apicius9
12-29-2012, 05:52 PM
Looks like I am unedumacated also :) I prefer a bold Aussie Shiraz over an anaemic pinot noir ;) Again, try to find what you like and can afford. If I had the money to drink myself through some fine burgundies, I am sure I would learn to appreciate them as well... Craig's suggestions for starter grapes/blends sound good. Oh, and don't forget that there are also white wines. ;) Having grown up in Germany and now living in the tropics, I still drink more white than red.


Stefan

mhlee
12-29-2012, 06:04 PM
Pretty much what Salty, Son & Bieniek said.

Drink, listen, read, learn, ask questions, and drink some more. Drink what you like, and don’t get caught up in the hype. There are so may nice wines out there, but there’s also so so much hype and BS. Is a $150 bottle better than a $25 bottle? Not necessarily…

One rule of thumb another good friend who’s a pretty good wine buff and I have – only drink one really nice bottle of wine at a time, and have it before you have ANYTHING else. After that it’s a waste.

Wine tastings can be fun, but after about 4-5-6 wines I’m overwhelmed.

Many of my friends that know wine are going with Old World wines rather than New World wines from Cali, South America & Australia. Some New Word wines have been getting a bad rap for being made with big bold, fruit forward and sweet flavor profiles – they’re being dubbed as made for uneducated people who are easily wowed and impressed.

I agree with most everything that's been written here, especially the drinking part. My thought is - DRINK EVERYTHING. LOL.

Frankly, I think going to cheap wine tastings can be beneficial - you'll be able to try all kinds of things, and you'll learn what you DON'T like more than what you DO like. I've found more and more that if you go somewhere to shop, if you say "I like this . . ." someone will rattle off a number of wines that you'll supposedly like, and most of which, you probably won't. If you say, "I don't like this . . ." then you'll likely not get a wine that has a few things you really don't prefer or like in a wine.

For example, Total Wine has regular tastings. Most of the wines are absolute crap because they're cheap and chosen by people who don't know wine. But, the tastings are a a dime (IIRC). If you don't like the wines, you'll know to never buy them - they'll never even be an impulse buy. Also, Whole Foods markets generally have weekend wine tastings. They're relatively inexpensive as well (IIRC around $10). Build up your mental inventory of what you like and don't like.

But, as Son said, drink what you like. I'll admit that I've had some Two Buck Chuck (whites) recently. They're better than some of the swill I tried at Total Wine. Although I wouldn't buy it, if someone served it, I would drink it.

I forgot about some wines that I've had regularly and they're reasonable: Castle Rock Winery Pinot Noirs. I preferred the Monterey County to the Mendocino County, but they're solid wines.

AFKitchenknivesguy
12-29-2012, 06:13 PM
I went to this winery this spring and bought a couple cases: http://www.abbeywinery.com/

It was pretty cool to see a winery at a very old ex-abbey. Wine was pretty good and of course they have free wine tastings. I think I got some merlots, cabernets, and blancs. It was drank up months ago.

mpukas
12-29-2012, 06:50 PM
For a few years now I've been threatening to do an ad hoc at home blind wine tasting with black coffee mugs just to see if poeple can even tell the difference between white and red when they can't see the color.

Crothcipt
12-29-2012, 06:50 PM
One thing I haven't seen anyone talk about yet. Keep a log of what you drink, what you tasted and smelled. Compare that with what was listed about the wine. As your tastings grow you def. want to go back and see if your taste has changed (it will) and how. Doing this will also help understand what is written and whether or not it is worth even tasting. Don't go by the stupid number system, I have tried some crappy 98's that was supposed to blow off my socks.

pumbaa
12-29-2012, 07:00 PM
For me I was never into wine until I started at my last 2 jobs. I am pretty hooked on Russian river valley wines with falcor being my favorite so far

apicius9
12-29-2012, 07:06 PM
For a few years now I've been threatening to do an ad hoc at home blind wine tasting with black coffee mugs just to see if poeple can even tell the difference between white and red when they can't see the color.

Never tried that with wine but lost a bet on that with beer a long time ago. Two distinctly different beers in the same type of glass, you are blindfolded, someone randomly gives you a glass and you just say beer A or beer B, 10 times, reasonably fast succession. Noboby in our group of beer drinkers got it 100% correct. Maybe I should try that with red and white wine some day. Amazing how taste buds adapt.

Friends of mine are in the wine business and I hung out with them during a large wine fair in Germany a few times (forum vini, hundreds of producers). i learned that systematic tasting is hard work, that spitting is a must and over the course of a day you still get drunk, and how great a beer can taste if you tried wines all day... With spitting, lots of water and bread in between, I think I could taste maybe 30-40 wines during a day and still get nuances. Beyond that, I can't tell them apart anymore. Today I could probably do 10 or so... Just mentioning this to support the 'Try as much as you can' recommendation, but there is a limit of what you can try during a tasting.

Stefan

mr drinky
12-29-2012, 07:21 PM
I'll second keeping some kind of notebook -- at least at first. When I first started getting into wine, I subscribed to a couple of wine magazines, and what I would do is go through the ratings in the back (not for the ratings themselves) but to gain a better idea of which producers in my price range were good. I would only buy wines in the $10-17 range so I would skim the buying guides, and when a producer would put out several bottles with good-ish ratings (88-92+ for instance), I would note the name of the winery in my notebook. After a year of doing that, it was amazing how good of a pulse I had on value wines. I can still go into most wine stores and pick out a case of solid value wines in 5-10 minutes.

k.

welshstar
12-29-2012, 09:02 PM
I was fortunate to start drinking wine in the early eighties when you could get first growths for a reasonable price, I remember that Chateau Lafite 1982 was $800 a case en primeur and I thought it was way to high !!!! Of course it now sells for $30,000+ I did have the luxury of trying great chateaus and really enjoyed them. The quality of winemaking has increased massively over the last twenty years and cru bourgeois wines now seem as good as 2nd or 3rd growths twenty years ago.

The way I do it is to establish a collection, I buy from wineries in the US and en primeur bordeaux, I buy in the $20-$60 range and get I believe superb wines. California wines like Shafer Relentless, Denner, Kosta Browne and other smaller wineries are fantastic wines and are at a great price point. I agree with Mrdinky that the diminishing returns really start at arounf$50-$70, above that you really have to know the particular wine and year to know if it's worth the extra

Also good fun is to just goto the wine shop and just pick up a case of $15 bottles and just try all regions and styles.

welshstar
12-29-2012, 09:05 PM
One more thing, don't forgot about Costco they have a great selection and sometimes u get great bottles cheap

mr drinky
12-29-2012, 11:10 PM
The way I do it is to establish a collection, I buy from wineries in the US and en primeur bordeaux, I buy in the $20-$60 range and get I believe superb wines. California wines like Shafer Relentless, Denner, Kosta Browne and other smaller wineries are fantastic wines and are at a great price point. I agree with Mrdinky that the diminishing returns really start at arounf$50-$70, above that you really have to know the particular wine and year to know if it's worth the extra

Also good fun is to just goto the wine shop and just pick up a case of $15 bottles and just try all regions and styles.

I LOVE Denner. I would add to Welshstar's list from CA: Booker, Loring Wine Co., A.P. Vin, Demetria, Byron, Tensley, and Stolpman. Loring is probably the most reasonable in price and they have screw tops.

Btw, for sparkling wine Gloria Ferrer (CA) and Gruet out of New Mexico are two of my go-to for value sparkling.

k.

wino
12-29-2012, 11:19 PM
Drink a lot of different wines. When you find something that really agrees with your palate, find out who the winemaker is and follow him wherever he goes because you will probably like everything he makes. Stay in the $20 to $35 range for your best value.

jmforge
12-29-2012, 11:20 PM
Yeah, I remember not to long after that when you could get a bottle of the red headed stepchild of the first growths, Mouton Rothschild for about what you would expect to pay for a bottle of Jordan cab today or maybe less. I have had Mouton and Lafitte a couple of times and Haut Brion and Latour once each. Amazing stuff, but with bottles NOT bottled in 1982, 1989 or what have you going for $1300, those days are long gone for me, even if I am ever in a position to afford them again. I will say this. With the few times that I have had basci table grade Bordeaux over in France, I have the sneakng suspicion that they are keeping most of the good cheap stuff for themselves and sending the rotgut at jacked up prices over here, much like the Colombians have always done to us with coffee.:lol2: I recall buying a half liter carafe of the basic house St. Emilion at a bistro in a not very cheap part of Paris for like 10-12 Euros in 2007 and being very impressed.
I was fortunate to start drinking wine in the early eighties when you could get first growths for a reasonable price, I remember that Chateau Lafite 1982 was $800 a case en primeur and I thought it was way to high !!!! Of course it now sells for $30,000+ I did have the luxury of trying great chateaus and really enjoyed them. The quality of winemaking has increased massively over the last twenty years and cru bourgeois wines now seem as good as 2nd or 3rd growths twenty years ago.

The way I do it is to establish a collection, I buy from wineries in the US and en primeur bordeaux, I buy in the $20-$60 range and get I believe superb wines. California wines like Shafer Relentless, Denner, Kosta Browne and other smaller wineries are fantastic wines and are at a great price point. I agree with Mrdinky that the diminishing returns really start at arounf$50-$70, above that you really have to know the particular wine and year to know if it's worth the extra

Also good fun is to just goto the wine shop and just pick up a case of $15 bottles and just try all regions and styles.

welshstar
12-30-2012, 03:04 AM
The way to beat the French game is to buy cases en primeur, I bought two cases of Lilian Ladouys 2009 @ $18.50 a bottle and it is superb, it drinks like a $50 wine and is only getting better.

Other good Californian wines are Lucia for Pinots and Booekenogen for Pinots, Syrahs and great Chardonnays.

Another thing is that the wine makers all are very friendly and will point you in the right direction of great wines in their area, for example it was Jeff Pisoni of Lucia who turned me onto Boekenoogen.

There are also the unobtainable wines from California that will frustrate the crap out of you, Kosta Browne for example is a 3-5 year wait list for generics and 5-7 years for estate bottlings, Denners is now closed for general sale. Ive been waiting over 5 years for Saxum, Alban and Carlisle and still have no allocation. Mr Dinky mentiosn Booker, also hard to get.

One thing i do disagree on is that i cannot find a US sparkling wine worth a damn, I just think that there is real champgne and no substitute.

geezr
12-30-2012, 03:26 AM
Great thread! Thanks to O/P and all the posts - esp. re. California wines :happy222:

Duckfat
12-30-2012, 09:49 AM
Costco has some great buys in the $15-20 range. Bottles in that price range are an average of $5-7 less than other retailers in my area. I pick up a lot of Chilean and Argentian wine in that range that keeps up with many California labels up to about the $50 price point. Opus 1 at the Costco here sells for around $160 and Duckhorn under $40. Both great buys.
Today I think my favorites are the gems I find in the $15 range or Duckhorn I order from the Winery.

mr drinky
12-30-2012, 11:34 AM
I fully endorse buying online if your state allows it and you have a place to ship it to (because you will have to sign for it). You can almost always find the wine 3-5 dollars cheaper and most of the times you won't pay tax on it either, which can be steep in some states. Of course in general you will pay $2 per bottle in shipping, but the other cost savings almost always exceed that amount. Good sites let you sort by price, rating, region, etc. to make finding good wine (especially value wine) a lot faster. Since buying online, the quality of the wine I drink has gone up significantly. I have the internet at my fingertips to double check a wine rating or get more information.

k.

apicius9
12-30-2012, 03:40 PM
Since I am not collecting anymore and only buy whatever fits into my 50 bottle fridge, I have not even looked into ordering online. Hawaii also has a surprising selection and, compared to everything else, wines are very reasonably priced. In one or two well-sorted stores prices are even below Costco's offerings. That said, ask me what I think about the restrictions for shipping wine in the land of the free, home of the brave...

Stefan

AFKitchenknivesguy
12-30-2012, 05:18 PM
Stefan,

You'd be suprised how many follow that law, or how many don't. We are some rebelious folk...

jeff1
01-08-2013, 06:22 AM
Ah wine. What i used to spend my money on before i found this place.

Craig
01-08-2013, 12:17 PM
The try everything advice is good, but there are some troubles with relying on it. For one thing, wine is best when it reaches an appropriate age. For some wines that doesn't take very long, for others it takes a decade or more. So if you're looking for table wines, try everything and pick what you like. But if you want bottles to lay down and cellar, trying a lot of stuff is still good advice, but it will be hard to really know what to go for without a little more information.

One thing to keep in mind is the region you're looking at, and what that means. In Bordeaux, the year, region and composition of the wine are very important, in many cases more so than the maker in my opinion. Outside of Europe, the maker means everything.

Another thing is know what you're using the wine for, and buy accordingly. I have a 220 bottle wine fridge (my Christmas present to myself this year) but if I want a bottle to go with pasta tonight, I'll buy one on my way home. When I'm pairing with food, unless it's a special occasion or something, I go with cheap table wines. A recent trip to Italy opened my eyes to Nero D'Avolas. A waiter and I got to chatting and he explained that tourists come and drink Chiantis with their food, but Italians will have a D'Avola. I tried it and I think he was right. As a nice bonus, it's very affordable as a general rule.

If, on the other hand, I'm buying wine to drink alone, I go for "nicer" things. This is a little trickier. Age is important here. For really good wine, odds are you're going to want to lay it down for quite a while. Buying aged wine is very expensive and hanging on to a bunch of things for a decade just to try them is a bit crazy too. What you can do though is try a few things that are well-aged and figure out the styles that appeal to you. I tried a bunch of stuff and found that I'm partial to Cotes-du-Rhone wines (with the Chateauneufs not being worth the price difference) and big Bordeauxs wines.

Like many people have said, the numbers aren't a bible for wine, but they are an excellent guide on where to start looking. They're also a good guide on which years were better than others. For example, 2005 produced very good French reds but 06 and 07 not so much. So 05 is a good spot to start. The guides will also give you a good idea on how long wines should be aged before drinking, which can vary quite a bit from year to year. Once you have an idea of what styles/regions you like and what years are good bets, you can buy bottles and lay them down for a while with relative confidence that the results will be pretty pleasing.

Like others have said, there's nothing wrong with going with later growths or classes of wines. Most of those labels are fairly meaningless and just drive up hype and prices. Heck, some of the systems date back to 1855 and just don't take new labels on regardless of how good their wine is. Other regions just don't have classification schemes.

2009 and 2010 were both supposed to be excellent years for my favoured regions, especially Bordeaux. I've been stocking up on sub-30$ bottles from makers I don't really know that I plan to age in the fridge for quite a while. I expect that by the time I drink them, they would be worth more than 100$.

DeepCSweede
01-08-2013, 12:42 PM
I agree with Craig. I have tried a lot of wines over the years and I also have a client that dabbles in wine speculation that has shared wines between $50 and $5,000 (no kidding he is a very generous person). I think there is diminishing return once you go over $50 / bottle. I have in the ballpark of 200 wines in my collection and there are only about 15 bottles over $50 that I pull out on special occasions but my go to wines are usually $9-20 for day to day and every couple of months I will pull out one between $20-30. My wife really likes a Malbec that is only $4 so it all comes down to your own personal taste.
I completely agree with Cotes du Rhone's being a fantastic choice for the money although if you can find 2009, go with that over the 2010 (Bellaruche and Andezon come immediately to mind) and I have also become fond of Malbec's recently with some great choices in the $10-25 range Chakana is probably my best choice here. Ghost Pines Cab's have not let me down in a decent price range.

I agree with others though, you need to experiment and figure out what you like. You also need to figure out how long certain wines need to breathe before serving or you are really going to miss out. I did that recently with a Roberts and Rogers Cab that I was too impatient to drink and only enjoyed the last half glass. We have a great weekly email special at a local shop that I will jump on once a month or so and they rarely steer me wrong. I think the best advice is pick up 5-6 bottles of something of a certain style and try them all over a period of time and then next time try a different type.

Stumblinman
01-08-2013, 02:28 PM
Wine is complicated and simple at the same time. It can be complicated because of the vast selections available and rich history but simple because it relies on your basic senses. i.e. visual, smell, taste... What helped me the most, other than a class, was blind tastings with friends. Even if they weren't into wine just explaining the process helped my understanding of it. Not all wines are meant to be drank on their own. Many are meant to be accompanied by food. I wouldn't let price dictate all my choices either. Some big name vintners have been known to relabel wines so they can be offered at the lower ranges for mass consumption just like some newer labels may look like they've been around for years when they're just a group of lawyers in NYC that started up their own vineyard in Italy. Other than blind tastings (friends bring a bottle in a bag, pop it and do your sensory analysis) tasting with food is great. I like to do it in apple season. You get a couple wines and a dozen different apples and taste with sipping wines. Cheese works and so on.

I'd start with Zraly's Windows on the World book. It's cheap and really informative.

And then there's John Cleese.... entertaining and funny. http://stagevu.com/video/qtajfkjicfci

And if in the springs, Coaltrain is a great place. Usually someone there knowledgeable whom you can say 'I have 20 bucks and I wanna try a South American Malbec' and they'll point you in a direction. And if you wanna be daring :) you can taste at Wines of Colorado up the pass for cheap but I haven't had much success with CO wines....

wenus2
01-08-2013, 03:57 PM
I would break what I drink into 4 price categories:
0 - 25
25 - 40
40 - 65
65 +

65 is, to me, the point of diminishing returns (generally speaking). I have found it is also an oddly safe price point; this may seem weird but it has proven true for me. I have been burned a few times with bottles priced at 50 (tasting like 15), but at 65 most everything seems to be approaching excellent. I think that because 50 is a number people have in their heads it is used to set prices for marketing purposes, where 65 is used when a maker (domestic) believes that's what his wine is worth.
I generally drink in the 18-25 range.
I'm pretty much on the same page as Karring, actually.

That's for big reds, btw. In general, you can cut it by 1/3 and apply to whites.

Specific suggestions are really tough without knowing your distribution area.

mhlee
01-08-2013, 06:11 PM
FWIW, I disagree with a few of the broad generalizations stated here. In my experience, there really are very few generalizations when it comes to wine that apply universally. You can also find great bargains or values if you think a little outside the box.

"In Bordeaux, the year, region and composition of the wine are very important, in many cases more so than the maker in my opinion. Outside of Europe, the maker means everything."

I know many people that do this, but I believe and do exactly the opposite more often than buying smaller producers in good years. In good years, you can find all kinds of good wine - you'll also likely pay more money for them. But, in less than stellar years, you can find good deals.

For example, I bought a number of 2002 (probably close to two cases worth) of well-known Bordeauxs in what was considered a good, but not exceptional, year. Why? Because they were MUCH cheaper than in "exceptional years" and good makers make consistently good wines that age well. They also got sandwiched between 2000 and 2003 - two of the most heralded vintages at that time.

Most makers have a consistent flavor profile/terroir/garrigue they're looking for. So, I bought 2002 Pichon-Baron and Cos D'Estournel for about $35-40 a bottle, two wines that I had prior to 2002 and really, really enjoy year after year. Now, they're in the +$100 range. Why? I tried them when they were released and they were solid wines with sufficient backbone to age. And because they're well known makers, and Cos has gotten outstanding ratings recently, many of their prior bottlings have had a corresponding price increase. On top of that, they're drinking really well. (I buy to drink - I haven't sold a single bottle to make money in over 20 years of buying wine.) I haven't bought Bordeaux in years, but I still make a point to look at prices every not so heralded year.

2002 sucked for Rhone wines. I bought some August Clape 2002 wines for half of what they usually go for because 2002 were generally so bad, no one bought them. (I like Clape wines stylistically.) They were very good considering how bad the year was for other wines and I wish I had bought more.

Conversely, one of the first wines I really enjoyed was the Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1990. I don't buy their wines (even before the winery was sold) in bad years because they tended to be unbalanced or differ from their house style. But, in good years, their wine still has that classic Mondavi balance that I really enjoyed when I first got into wine and continue to enjoy. I had a 2002 (generally considered a very good vintage) Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon (regular bottling) in magnum three years ago. It was fantastic. It was $40 for the magnum at Costco. I also felt that in the past, in mediocre years, lower to mid priced Chilean, Oregon and Washington wines tended to suffer from more obvious flaws. (I can't say this necessarily applies to new vintages because I don't really venture out too often now from the core wines I enjoy and I don't drink many Chilean, Oregon, Washington wines, or South African, Australian, wines for that matter.)

"2009 and 2010 were both supposed to be excellent years for my favoured regions, especially Bordeaux. I've been stocking up on sub-30$ bottles from makers I don't really know that I plan to age in the fridge for quite a while. I expect that by the time I drink them, they would be worth more than 100$."

In my experience, buying good somewhat inexpensive wines now from not-well-known makers with the hope that they increase in price is a risky proposition. It takes years for makers to establish themselves as worth paying for more than $100. Names mean a LOT and the value of a wine is subject to worldwide trends now, with China dominating the market for high-end Bordeauxs and Burgundies, e.g. $3000+ for bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild.

I can think of a number of well known wines that got, for example, top 10 in Wine Spectator's annual Top 100 wines list. However, most never become worth over $100 (I'm talking retail, not restaurants). Paloma, Chateau St. Jean, Chateau de St. Cosme, Casa Lapostolle, etc. All of these wineries have had very successful wines at times. Are they consistenly worth over $1000/have they consistently been able to charge over $100 a bottle? Not yet from what I've seen.

One of the great wines I had was a 1989 Chateau Fonroque in 1996 or so (I think I bought the bottle for $20). My friend, who is now a very well regarded winemaker, even remembered this bottle years later. Haven't heard of it, right? It still sells for about $40 a bottle even in great years. Off the top of my head, the only wine that I can think of that was previously considered a good Bordeaux, but not excellent, that now commands an over $100 price is Pontet Canet (I know there are others, but this is just off the top of my head). I recall buying it for less than $30 years ago. But Pontet Canet has received several years of higher scores and has established itself as a consistently good performer.

Craig
01-10-2013, 04:04 PM
Two things mhlee.

Your approach to Bordeaux makes sense, but it requires knowledge to work. You can't buy from preferred wineries in off years if you haven't been into wine long enough to know what your preferred wineries are yet. If someone wants to know where to start getting to know wines, I'm standing by my advice of starting in a decent year and trying a few smaller makers to find something you like. I agree that the various makers have certain profiles they aim for, but that's the point, isn't it? You have to try things to find the profiles you like. All that starting in a good year does is increase your odds of finding those things and decrease your odds of catching a dud.

The price thing is probably a factor of local markets. What I was getting at was an older bottle of wine will cost more than a young one, so it's worth buying them young and holding on to them if you can. Where I live there's a government monopoly on wine sales and finding anything more than 5 years old is rare. They only carry 6 Bordeaux wines from 2000 right now, for example, and they average more than 100 a bottle.

I actually have 3 Chateau Fonroque 2000's in my fridge right now.

mhlee
01-10-2013, 04:57 PM
I don't see how my approach is any different than yours or requires that much more knowledge than what you proposed. Finding what you like comes from trying lots of wines. You started by stating, "The try everything advice is good, but there are some troubles with relying on it." My point was to try certain good makers in off years, when it comes to Bordeaux. You can start in a decent year and try by buying wines from small makers, whereas I started by trying better wineries/more famous makers in not so decent years for about the same price.

The OP's first questions were "at what price point do you find the rate of diminishing returns with wine? I understand a $500 wine will likely be much better than a $25 one. But is a $75 one much better than a $25 one? Putting country origin, styles, grapes, and such out of play, what are some fairly readily available wines do you suggest?" With price being the key point, how does my strategy require any more knowledge to work? In fact, one's $$$ will go farther in a not-so-lauded year, which is what I understood the OP's point to go to - what wines can we recommend that weren't so expensive? So, you can try small wines in good years, or more famous wines in off years. Everything starts with trying lots of wines to figure out what you like at a certain price.

But, more importantly, going forward, if you buy a small maker in a good year, what happens in a worse year? It's probably going to be worse. If you buy a good maker in a not-so-lauded year, it's likely going to be MUCH better in a better year. Will it be more? Sure. But at least you'll learn. And, I'd rather know how good a wine could be, rather than knowing how good it is at its best, and hoping that the next time I try it, it doesn't suck. It's not more knowledge; it's approach.

Again, my biggest concern with your post is that you included broad generalizations that just simply aren't true. "For one thing, wine is best when it reaches an appropriate age." There is absolutely no SINGLE "APPROPRIATE AGE" to start drinking any single wine. That depends on one's taste. For you, it may be several years. For others, it may be right now so it doesn't need to reach an appropriate age. If the OP likes really fruit forward wines, then he probably shouldn't really age MOST wines beyond a few years. (And as you probably know well, how well a wine ages is absolutely dependent on storage conditions.)

But, despite published recommended ranges of time to drink a wine, some ranges are completely wrong. And who's to say that Wine A must be drunk 15 years from now versus Wine B that must be drunk 3 years from now? Wine Spectator? Robert Parker? No. It's the drinker. I absolutely LOVE aged non-vintage champagnes. I've had non-vintage champagnes 10 to 12 years after their release which, according to most publications, was near the end or even well beyond the end of their "best" drinking period. I can also tell you that I've had wines within the "recommended drinking" range, only to find out that they're better beyond that time, or worse, that wines were already diminishing during the "recommended drinking" range.

On top of that, when a wine is an "appropriate age" depends on what one appreciates about wine. I've been opening early 2000 wines (2002 to 2004) lately and, while they're different from when I initially had them, and some are not better with age, I appreciate the difference. The most important part of enjoying wine is understanding what one likes, which starts from trying as many wines as possible at whatever price you can afford; broad generalizations don't necessarily apply because enjoying wine is a purely individual thing.

Craig
01-10-2013, 05:19 PM
"Age is important here. For really good wine, odds are you're going to want to lay it down for quite a while."

What I was saying is age changes a wine and most people who are into wine prefer Bordeaux wines when they're older. Sure, some people prefer younger wines and some wines don't age well. I never meant to give the impression that there is a perfect age for any given wine. Of course it's all about personal preference, I was just giving some guidelines that often apply. I'm not denying that I was talking in generalizations, but I will deny that they were untrue.

playford
01-10-2013, 08:18 PM
Depends at what knowledge level your starting from.. I think a basic wine course can be a great start, how to taste a wine, what different grapes taste like etc.

If you can find a local wine merchant (not the snooty kind) that has a passion for wine and the people that work there are into wine, then great. These are the knife nuts of the wine world, if you call in and buy stuff a bit they will put you straight on whats great at a price etc. It helps if you can describe the kind of thing you like/don't like.

Personally I can't drink most chilean/ozzie stuff and fine it hugely over oaked, but malbec from argentina pretty decent. I find california crazy prices now, the south of france is making some great wines now with people being able to find vineyards for cheap enough and tearing up the rulebook of their AC and just labelling them Vin de pays.



Also don't knock merlots lol.

welshstar
01-12-2013, 05:21 AM
Its late and im on my third bottle.

The one thing that is critical, dont take wine to seriously it is designed for pleasure, whatever floats you boat is good wine

Alan

quantumcloud509
01-12-2013, 05:29 AM
Its late and im on my third bottle.

The one thing that is critical, dont take wine to seriously it is designed for pleasure, whatever floats you boat is good wine

Alan

I remember those days....oh wait, that was just last night! :D

TheDispossessed
01-15-2013, 10:27 AM
i love love love wine but can't afford to get too into it. the route i've chosen is to stick to a few regions that produce very memorable wines for about 20 bucks. If you try to get a bordeaux for that price, it's gonna suck. My gf and i like the loire valley reds from france. cheap, young, often naturally produced and have a lot of character. not usually very refined stuff but almost always interesting. sometimes you get something a little too yeasty or immature but hey, it happens and it's never a huge loss at that price range. also you can get very decent german reislings in this price range.
think about it, if you go out for a nice dinner and buy a 60$ bottle, it's really just a 20$ bottle anyways

mr drinky
01-15-2013, 11:18 AM
...the route i've chosen is to stick to a few regions that produce very memorable wines for about 20 bucks....My gf and i like the loire valley reds from france.

I think this is a good idea, and I would take it a step further. I like to change things up and every year or so I choose a new area that has good value, read up on it, learn about the good producers and then start buying wine. It keeps it interesting, and over time you really learn about wine. Next year I am going to focus on Portugal. The value coming out of Portugal right now is pretty amazing.

Btw, Loire is one of my absolute favorite regions. The variety of grapes and unique bottles that come out of that area is fabulous -- though I tend to favor Loire whites. Another great value region (for reds) is Côtes du Ventoux, but you don't find them as much in the US.

k.