Home > Experiences, wine > Should You Really Drink Really Cheap Wines?

Should You Really Drink Really Cheap Wines?

November 9, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

My friend Emil forwarded me a copy of an article in the Slate magazine from November 2nd called “Drink Cheap Wine“, where the author explains his rationale behind the suggestion that everybody should drink really cheap wine. As someone who doesn’t have an unlimited budget and constantly looking for the QPR in wine, the subject stroke a cord, so I thought – how about we will discuss this with my readers?

Should we all start drinking only cheap [the cheapest?] wines? May be, but let’s take a look first at the reasons we drink wine.

Why do we drink wine? If the answer is “to get drunk”, we can stop right here, as there is no need to continue the discussion – at any price wine is too expensive for this purpose (switch to industrial alcohol, I think it should be a cheaper option).

Next reason can be – because it is a habit, a custom. I would dare to say that this is probably the main reason for Europeans to consume wine – this is part of the culture, this is how people there had being born and raised – wine is something which should accompany the food. Period. I’m not saying that people in Europe are not enjoying wine by itself – all I’m saying that they look at it differently. By the way, quite on contrary to what is stated in the article, I would sincerely doubt cheap wine in Europe is worse than in US – cheap wine and wine produced by cooperatives had being around for hundreds and hundreds of years, and it was produced to be consumed with food, so I expect it to have much higher acidity than any cheap US wine, which will be mostly sweet – and I will take acidity in wine over sweetness at any time.

Reason number three to drink wine is to get pleasure – as good bottle of wine is really an art! This is my main reason to drink wine – I like phenomenal range of variations of taste you can reflect upon – this is what makes wine so magical for me. Now, as soon as we look at the wine from this angle, while the cost is still very important, it is a whole different perspective – if cheap wine doesn’t give me pleasure, should I really drink it? Of course not, as still it will be a waste of money – it is better to drink water in such a case (yes, yes, all opinions expressed here are my own).

I perfectly understand what he author is saying about blind tasting and inability of the average consumer to distinguish between the cheap and non-cheap wines. However, if you will taste 10 wines (in the same blind tasting, of course), I would definitely expect that some of them you will like more, and some of them you will like less. Actually, if you like them all the same, or if you don’t like any of them at all, may be you should stick with the cheap wine. Otherwise, if you will find out that your favorite wine in the tasting costs $15, and the one you didn’t like was $3, what are you supposed to do? That is correct – you have to make a decision which will be suitable for you. If we agree that finding pleasure is one of the main ideas behind drinking wine, you simply have to make a decision based on your budget and your preferences – but you shouldn’t drink cheap wine!

So, what do you think? Should we all switch to the cheap wines and force ourselves to be happy with them? Or should we look for wines with the good QPRs which give us pleasure?

Comment now – it is your turn to speak. Cheers!

Categories: Experiences, wine Tags: ,
  1. Larisa
    February 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Since there are no comments here and I read this same article, I figured I would let you know my opinion. I agree with your point that is the idea of wine is to get drunk you are wasting your time. i also agree with your idea that sometimes out of habit that people drink wine (I myself prefer a glass to get to sleep at night).

    But I don’t think that following a habit is the same as “forcing ourselves to drink cheap wine.” I don’t think that buying some cheap wine just for the sake of uncomplicated wine one night is forcing anything. You can buy expensive wine the next day. It is not a life long commitment to the wine.

    Cheap wine will never taste the same as one that is hand selected from the vineyard by a true artist (the article is way off saying wine is not art…it is art and science combined and not easy). That being said, I see no issue with drinking cheap wine if you really are drinking as much as the article suggests (5 bottles a week). It will save your pocketbook, satisfy your habit, and you will be able to afford better wine and really appreciate it when you get it. If you only drink as much as the average American (one bottle a month) you are wasting your money on something cheap, as you only get to enjoy 12 bottles a year.

    So i guess the question should really be how much money is that enjoyment worth to you? On the average Monday night after a long day at work it’s not worth it to me to spend $10-$20 on a bottle of wine which I will most likely throw out before I finish. On a weekend when i have the free time to savor and enjoy the wine, pair it with the right breads or cheeses? I would gladly spend over $100 as long as I had the cash.

    • talkavino
      February 26, 2012 at 8:22 am


      thanks for the comment. As someone who drinks wine practically every night, I would not necessarily agree with your suggestion of opening cheap-doesn’t-matter-what-kind bottle of wine for Monday – I drink to enjoy my wine during any day of the week. And if someone only drinks a bottle a month, I think it really doesn’t matter if you will spend a $100 or $5 on a bottle – there is a good chance the person will get the same amount of pleasure from both. Our tastes are subjective, so some people might get a lot more pleasure from $5 bottle of wine than from a $100 bottle.
      My bottom line is that people should drink what they like, but they shouldn’t be told what are they supposed to like.

  2. September 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I think my biggest problem in the US is that wine seems generally overpriced. When I see how much work is necessary along the steep slopes of the Mosel, harvesting only possible by hand, and then look at some US wineries, where a lot is done by machine, flat fields of vines, and then they charge way more than these labor intensive wineries, that is when in my view something is wrong in the market.

    I think that wine in the US is either two buch chuck or $15+. There does not seem to be too much quality in between, and if, you have to look quite a bit. The US wine culture seems to have taken its inspiration from Burgundy, Italy, Bordeaux, where wines command a high price for their quality (but there is a lot of lack thereof, too).

    I understand that I come from a wine country that is underpriced. But winemakers there are still making a decent living. And I can get outstanding wines for $8-10, no problem. That is what I wish was the case in the US as well…so, I disagree with the article on the cheap stuff, absolutely. But I do have a problem with pricing here, and I want cheap but decent everyday wines…

    • talkavino
      September 2, 2012 at 8:14 am

      Thanks for the comment. I don’t think it is arguable that wine culture in Europe is different from the one in US – but wine culture in US is changing. And we fill that gap in pricing with cheap imports , which are still very drinkable (Portugal, for instance).

      • September 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm

        Absolutely, Portugal usually has a great quality for price ratio…and it is fun finding these. What do you mean that the wine culture in the US is not different, but that it is changing? Curious what you mean by that. Would you mind explaining? Thanks!!

        • talkavino
          September 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

          in Europe, wine is part of daily life for majority of people for probably 300-400 years by now – it is just a norm that a glass of wine is a part of daily meal (lunch included). US was a puritan country for a very long time, and then even 20 years ago, it was mainly a beer and liquor, not definitely not the wine drinking country. In the past 5-10 years, the situation is changing, and wine is preferred adult dinner beverage for growing number of people – including generation Y, which is important. Therefore I think we will see more changes in terms of acceptance of wine, wine culture and plain availability of inexpensive wine, as we are going forward. This will not be necessarily local wine, but nevertheless I still think that good and inexpensive wine will be more readily available.

  3. September 2, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Ugh, now I am getting it. Sorry, I misinterpreted your initial answer to read that the culture was not different. Sometimes this whole being a non-native speaker throws me off. I do agree with your points, and I am looking forward to experiencing it here! 🙂

  1. April 18, 2012 at 8:18 pm
  2. September 18, 2012 at 10:17 pm

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