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How to Pick Out Wine on a Budget

Saint Hilaire - On of my favorite Sparkling Wines From Limoux
Saint Hilaire - On of my favorite Sparkling Wines From Limoux

Good wine is expensive….NOT! Well, this can be true… but does not have to be. There are a lot of affordable bottles out there that will knock your socks off! When finding wine on a budget, stick to these simple rules and you will not be disappointed.

1. Avoid expensive regions

It is easy to pick wine out from notable wine regions like Napa Valley and Bordeaux. However, expect to pay more. You can see higher prices of wine where land is more expensive to purchase and maintain and where labor is steeper. There are exceptional wine regions throughout the world that are producing quality wines that are way more affordable. For instance, head south and try wine from regions like Chile, South Africa, and Argentina. I like to call these my value regions - bang for your buck bottles!

Champagne is another beast of its’ own. Remember Champagne is not a grape, it is a region and certainly an incredible one, but it is so well-known that the price starts high. Look for Cava from Spain or Crémant from France… you can find some real bubbly beauties there!

2. Buy “Lesser-Known” grapes

Instead of reaching for a bottle of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Chardonnay, find a different grape that packs the same punch. Most of the world's most expensive wines include these grapes. Try these swaps, if you like:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon - Try Nero d’Avola from Sicily

  • Pinot Noir - Try Zweigelt from Austria

  • Merlot - Try Camenere

  • Chardonnay - Torrontés from Argentina

3. Don’t fall victim to good marketing

Expensive bottles, labels, and corks can play a huge role in the cost of the wine. You may look like you are paying for a higher quality wine based on some extra “jazz” but this may or may not be true. Additionally, some bottles now include augmented reality apps, which I admit mesmerize me, but also make us wonder if I purchased it just to play with the fun app or because of the contents of the bottle.

4. White wine is cheaper

I know, you are a wine drinker… you probably already know this but it is definitely worth noting. If you are buying wine for a party, think to get more white wine options and just one red!

5. Head to a wine store

Grocery stores, at least the ones in my neck of the woods are great with great options, however, it can be hard to find someone to talk with about wine. When picking out wine, I always prefer to go to a wine store, tell the wine expert my budget and see what they come up with! Even though I know how to pick out a wine, the representatives at a wine store will know their inventory better than me and be able to steer me toward any hidden gems that I may have passed over!

The biggest takeaway is to not judge a bottle by its’ price. Wine does not play by the “you pay what you get for” game. Price is a factor in wine, but it does not always guarantee quality or taste. Always, remember there is a wide variety of wines out there from regions all over the world. So, if your looking for quality on a budget find a region where real estate is cheaper, look for lesser-known grapes, don’t be fulled by good marketing, and buy more white wine. When all else fails, head to a wine store and talk to someone who eats, sleeps

and breaths wine…they love a challenge to help find a good wine that will meet your budget!

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