Home > Trader Joe's Wines, Value Wines > This Wine Costs What?!

This Wine Costs What?!

If you follow the wine discussions in the social media world, one of the most controversial (and therefore, popular and recurrent) subjects is price of wine. There is a full range of opinions out there, as you can imagine, from some people religiously advocating cheapest possible wines as their one and only choice, to those who pay $2500 for a bottle of Screaming Eagle or Chateau Petrus (to tell you the truth, I’m really curious as to what percentage of those spending the money on Screaming Eagle actually end up drinking it versus selling later on at an auction – but this is a subject for the whole another post). There had being also posts and articles advocating that consumers must buy only cheap wines due to the fact that majority is incapable to understand the difference between cheap and expensive wine anyway – here you can find my response to one such a post.

Why am I talking about the cheap value wines all of a sudden? While in California, I visited Trader Joe’s store near by. In Connecticut, where I live, Trader Joe’s sells only beer. In Massachusetts, Trader Joe’s has very good selection of wines (I wrote a few posts about those wines before – here are couple of links for you – one about Amarone  and one more generic). Wine selection at this Trader Joe’s in San Diego definitely beats the Boston store hands down – great representation of many regions, with a lot of wines offered at a great prices. So I decided to run a simple experiment – let’s see what I can get for a $20. I spent $21 on three bottles of wine, and when I tasted the Dearly Beloved Forever Red … this blog post was born.

I will give you my tasting notes a bit later, but let me tell you – this wine was simply very, very good – at the price of $6.99, which I’m sure constitutes cheap wine in anyone’s book. I wonder how many people would reach out for this wine because of the label alone, which looks very cool, and then will put it back because they would think at $6.99 it can’t be good? I would very likely ignore this wine too, if I would not be conducting this experiment (not anymore, of course – after tasting it, I know I need a case). So what is driving the consumer behavior around the cheap wine? Outside of elitism, clever wine marketing and all the wine press which is trying to convince us that only more expensive is better, I think we have one fundamental issue coming out from our experience with cheap stuff. How many of you came back from the dollar store just to realize that what was looking almost as a treasure chest full of stuff for $10 or $15 is actually a $10 or $15 worth of junk, none of which can be used for its intended purpose? How many of us bought the cheapest tool just to understand that probability of killing oneself is a lot higher than probability of actually accomplishing the job you got the tool for? How many of us used cheapest possible material for a project, only to regret your decision every minute after and ending up paying a lot more than we would if we wouldn’t be so frugal to begin with? I think this experience is programming us to effectively disregard the cheap option simply from the fear of disappointment.

We transpose this experience onto our dealings with the wine world – and in a lot of cases we effectively end up losing. I have to tell you that I had a lot of $15-$20 wines, which end up being not good at all, with or without any comparison with this Dear Beloved wine. I tasted many $50 and $100 bottles which are not bad, but don’t give you nearly as much pleasure as this wine. Am I saying that from now on I will only be buying the wines for $6.99 or less? Not at all. And if anyone wants to spoil me with Chateau Petrus or DRC, I will be forever obliged. But if we will be able to avoid making assumptions and judgements based on the price of wine alone, we would be far better off in finding the wines we like at the prices we can afford. This is not simple. I would love to conduct a simple experiment – pour this wine to the two different glasses and tell people that wine in one costs $6.99, and the same wine in another one costs $19.99, and see how many people will wholeheartedly advocate the $19.99 wine to be far more superior to the $6.99 one. I’m sure it will be a fun exercise – something you should try at home (if you do, I will be glad to hear about your results). So we really need to work on our wine buying habits – we definitely will be far better off if we do.

Now, let me share the tasting notes with you. First, here are all three wines ($20.97 total + tax):

Let’s start with 2011 Caves du Journalet Cotes du Rhone (13% ABV, $4.99) – very soft and round. The wine rolls very smoothly in your mouth – very subtle tannins, good red fruit, good acidity – nice balance, nothing stands out, just round and smooth. Very easy to drink. Doesn’t give you any amazing “oompf”, but I’m sure would be a great party wine as it will appeal to the broad audience. Drinkability: 7.

Next – 2009 Dear Beloved Forever Red Central Coast, California (13.5% ABV, $6.99). Very nice nose of blackberries and some spice. More of the same on the palate – good red and black fruit, plums, ripe blueberries, warm spice, hint of eucalyptus, medium to full body, round tannins and and acidity, very balanced ( and stayed that way for 3 days). This is the description of much more expensive wine, but – $6.99 is $6.99… Definitely the wine to buy by the case. Drinkability: 8.

Last one – 2009 Blason de Bourgogne Montagny Premier Cru, Burgundy (13% ABV, $8.99) – Burgundy for $9? Can that be even drinkable? Nice and balanced. Nose of white apple and lychees. Very round on the palate, white fruit, with distant hint of vanilla and toasted oak, may be a tiny touch of butter. Good balance, good acidity – should be a good food wine. Drinkability: 7+.

That’s all for today folks. I’m glad it is a #WineWednesday, so this post will hopefully give you some food for thoughts. What are your great experiences with the cheap value wines, and what are the “not cheap wines” you regretted buying? Share it all here. Cheers and happy #WW!

  1. April 23, 2012 at 2:54 am

    Thank for sharing this very informative blog. You enlighten me on which wine is better over the others. You provided a very detailed descriptions on some selected wines. I enjoy reading you blog.

  2. April 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I picked up the Dearly Beloved for a Halloween/5oth Birthday Camping Trip–definitely inspired by the label. I’ve been pleased with many value wines from Trader Joe’s but this one I found too sweet, too flabby, and basically unbalanced. Everyone else loved it and neighbors borrowed our wine opener to open –you guessed it–Dearly Beloved which they also loved. I also brought camping the Bogle PS Phantom Ranch (at $16) which also went with the theme and I think that’s a great wine and a great value.

    • talkavino
      April 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      thanks for the comment! Was the Dear Beloved wine which you didn’t like from 2009? At such a pricing level ($6.99), I think we can expect significant variation from a bottle to a bottle – or may be I just got lucky.
      As far as Bogle wines are concerned, they are some of my favorite value-priced wines, and they are usually very consistent.

  3. September 18, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Reblogged this on SAHMmelier and commented:
    If you are lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, Talk-A-Vino has some great suggestions for you.

  4. September 18, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Argh. I still don’t get this reblogging thing so I had to do some copy paste. Thanks!

    • talkavino
      September 19, 2012 at 12:41 am

      Thank you for reblogging! I’m glad you liked the post!

      Cheers!

  5. October 21, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Thanks for sharing this post with me on my blog! Ah I need to move to Cali haha. I will be on the lookout for that red though next time I’m at a TJ’s in MA. Or perhaps one in FL – I’ll be visiting there in Dec. I personally rarely spend more that $10-$15/bottle on a bottle of wine. Actually, $10 or less is becoming the norm because I’ve been doing a lot of those variety case deals on Groupon. But my TJ’s $3-$4 finds that I mentioned in that post you commented on are still impressing me!

    • talkavino
      October 21, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Yes, TJ’s offers great value for the money. Don’t know about groupon, but you can find some good wines under $10 in many wine stores nowadays. Cheers!

  1. September 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm
  2. September 18, 2012 at 10:17 pm

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