Wine: are you worth it?

A recent study claimed that we couldn’t tell the difference between cheap wine and expensive wine. When asked to decide which was which, only 50% of respondents got it right. Weird, because in my experience, give someone a £5 bottle and a £10 bottle and most people can differentiate. We might not always prefer the more expensive wine, but can tell the difference between the two. I tested this out on a few friends last week (I promise I am not always this dull) with a £5 bottle of Pinot Grigio and a £10 bottle of Gavi. Both Italian white wines, both delicious: tasted ‘blind’ the Gavi was easily picked out as the more expensive wine, with better weight and flavour. Go above £10 – not something I do very often, tbh – and it becomes a question of personal taste as much as anything. The average price of a bottle of wine in the UK is still under £5. Spend a few quid more and you’ll get much better value for money. Spend over £10 and I’ll be asking you round for dinner.

This week’s white in the fridge: Araldica, La Monetta Gavi di Gavi 2009, £9.99, Waitrose
This is the very same wine mentioned above. I liked it so much, I bought another bottle at the weekend. Made from the Cortese grape grown in the Gavi region in Piedmont, Italy. It is a really sunny, crisp wine; refreshingly different from Chardonnay and more interesting than the ubiquitous Pinot Grigio. I drank a glass of this whilst deciding how long I could put off packing. As you can see, I chose posting over packing. 

This week’s red on the side:  Chateau Montesquieu 2008, £8.55, The Solent Cellar
A frequent dinner guest, this is a brilliant example of how spending a few extra quid gives you much better value for money at this level. This good-looking red is from the Cotes du Roussillon region in the South of France, 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Carignan. Sometimes the sum is greater than the parts: the Grenache has great fleshy fruit, the Syrah adds backbone, depth and tannin and the Carignan brings colour to the party. Aged in French oak for 10 months, this is a little smarty-pants of a wine. Brilliant with Shepherd’s Pie. Ketchup essential. 

Chin chin x 

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  1. A subject which often comes up at our table – apparently I guzzle my wine and the running joke from my Father in law is that his expensive wine is wasted on me and he could save a fortune by buying any old plonk!

  2. Of course I'm worth it! But we regularly splash out on one of the cheapest wines on the list just because they should be there for a reason. And after a certain point, the cost differential is lost on most people.

  3. In my series of 14 articles about wines under $10 we found the whites generally thin – but still incredibly drinkable – and the reds more complex. Having said that we had a $30 bottle of white the other day that was like water…

  4. Wine is a bit more expensive here, but in general I would spend between $10 and $15 on a bottle. We did have a $20 bottle on Easter Sunday which was noticeably better, but I reckon spend any more than that and you won't see a marked difference. When I was a student we used to buy 2 quid bottles of Bulgarian red sometimes – quite vile. I never want to return to those days!

  5. Cuckoos – why do father FiLs always do that?!

    Fancy – I know you are, darling. Agree.

    ALW – you're right, more bang per buck with reds…will go and have a read of your articles.

  6. And NVG – I so remember the Bulgarian Cab days (ish)! Spending more is a good thing if you are happily guided towards the right wines (specialist shops v. good, supermarkets more hit and miss).

  7. Spending more is fine if you can afford it (there are plenty of expensive wines in Napa/Sonoma). At the end of the day, what matters is whether you are enjoying, or not, what is in your glass.

  8. Vinogirl – you are absolutely right. All that matters is whether you are enjoying what's in your glass. Although I do find expensive wine tastes better when someone else is paying. PS – all moved!

  9. I think that white is on 25% off via Ocado…

  10. I wish I'd read your recommendation before pushing my trolley around Waitroes. I'm not great at choosing wine, a good label always sways me!

  11. Great blog! I too reach for the vino collapso at the end of every day but always grab the same thing. So nice that I can now try a few recommended wines and broaden my pallet…..and most probably my waist line in the process, but no matter! Am an absolute sucker for a good Prosecco, any tips?

  12. Muddling – so happy you liked the Gavi!

    2Hippos – I'm a sucker for a good label but doesn't always work..

    Sally – Very happy you've found me! Off to find you back. Prosecco: try Tesco Finest one from Bisol (name of producer) or the Waitrose one is pretty good. Don't spend more that £10 on Prosecco though.

  13. mark oneill

    its interesting to read how this 'research' was carried out. The people who were sampling the wine were NOT given two samples but only one! IE, they were given a glass of wine and asked if they believed it was a cheap wine or an expensive wine! A cheap marketing ploy by the writers to promote themselves, albeit it worked brilliantly as they have all of us talking about it.

  14. What incredible palates those friends you tried the white wines with must have, to tell so effortlessly which was cheap and which was expensive…

  15. Crumbs – god no, they were just super-easy tarts I found through the internet…

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