Cheap Wine Ain’t Cheap
There are tens of thousands of different labels of wine produced each year, Italy alone makes 7,000 separate wines, you add in the wine produced by every single other wine region and you have a mind-boggling number of wine choices. To take this vast amount of wine and break them down into 2 categories, won’t be completely accurate, but for most American wine consumers it works.
There are two main types of wine, 1) wine made for aging and 2) drink it now wines.
Cellar worthy wines must use grapes with a solid tannin structure and/or an ideal level of acidity, it is imperative that they are made to exacting standards, any flaws and 15 years down the road you have an expensive bottle of wine that drinks no better than 2 Buck Chuck. Get it right and you have a sublime bottle of wine that is worth every penny you spent and probably more.
Drink it now wines can come in many forms, they can be “young wines” that are produced very simply and have no or little aging and are meant to be consumed with 24 months of release. Or they can be wines that feature more manipulation by the winemaker, the grapes can come from multiple vineyards with a variety of climates, they use inventive oak programs, something like 20% of the grapes get new oak barrels for 4 months, 45% of the grapes get used oak barrels for 6 months and the rest is aged in stainless steel tanks, all in an effort to give the wine the illusion that it has been aged for 5 or 6 years. Every winery has their own formula for giving the wine the lived in feel. But the end result is, the wine will be at its best upon release and any aging potential, which some drink it now wines do have and some don’t, is beside the point.
And the reason it is beside the point, studies have found that by far, the vast majority of wine bought is consumed within 5 hours of purchase. Most wines never make it to that wrought iron 6 bottle wine rack you have on your kitchen counter top. Wine bottles go from the store, to your table, to the recycling bin, with no stops in between.
Because drink it now wines are created to be consumed today and not ten years from now, because they are often made from multiple vineyards and growing areas, because they can be made in relatively large quantities and because they are more of the wine makers expression and skill and not dependent on one vineyard, these wines can be produced inexpensively.
If you fall in love with the wines produced by a certain winery or winemaker or the wines of an exclusive region or vineyard or wines produced in small amounts, then you will have to pay extra for your obsession, it is all a matter of supply and demand.
Everyday, drink it now, wines should be of excellent quality and at a price that allows you to drink them everyday. That $12 Italian White wine that was given 90 points by a leading Wine Magazine is $12 after it was shipped here, remember that an importer and a distributor had to take their cuts to get that bottle to you. In Italy, that $12 wine probably sold for $6 or $7. Many people will gladly drink that inexpensive Italian wine, but won’t consider a $6 or $7 American wine. It is all a matter of perception and not exactly a matter of reality.
Cheap wine sells for exactly what it should sell for, everybody along the supply chain makes a profit and wine drinkers get a very good and sometimes excellent wine to drink. While we lovingly refer to everyday, drink it now wines as cheap, cheap wine ain’t cheap.