How to Find Value Wines ?
How to Find Value Wines by Bill Hock
Each January, I take a look back at the previous year to get a sense of which wines sold
well and which ones didn’t. I don’t automatically come to the conclusion that I need to
discontinue the wines that didn’t sell. Rather, I ask myself, what could I have done better to get
those wines off the shelf and onto someone’s dinner table? Inevitably, the answer is always the
same. I need to do a better job of educating my customers of the value that these wines
Given the fact that I have limited shelf space, I need to make every selection hit the mark
for both price and value.
How I Search for those Value Wines !
How do I do this? There are certain general rules to follow. The first, tasting the wine, is
not always an option for me due to my remote location. The second involves the history and
reputation of the producer or importer. The third has to due with where the wine comes from,
France, Italy, California, etc. The fourth is the popularity and comfort level of the grape varietal,
Merlot as opposed to Tempranillo. Finally, I like to read up on what the wine critics think of the
wine. I consider all these variables in my final selections.
Value White Wines
If I do get the opportunity to taste a wine, I’m not just going by what I like or don’t like.
My preference in wine is not relevant to the process of filling my shelves. What I look for is a
wine that is true to what it is. A Pinot Noir should taste like a Pinot Noir. A New Zealand
Sauvignon Blanc should have the basic characteristics of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc as
opposed to one from California. .
Value Red Wines
Without tasting, I rely on the other variables. This is where my years of experience
helps. I already know who the better producers and importers are. For example, DeLoach has
been making great wines from their estate in the Russian River Valley of California for decades.
Broadbent Selections has been a trusted and reliable importer for many years. In general,
these folks don’t want to ruin their reputation putting their label on a subpar
bottle of wine.
Exploring A World of Value Wines
Where a wine comes from is the next factor. A Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendoza,
Argentina costs much less than one from the Napa Valley. This is just a basic economic fact.
Land and labor are both much less expensive in Argentina compared to the Napa Valley.
Winemaking techniques are not. I would put a $12 bottle of Cab from Argentina up against a
$20 Napa Cab any day. The differences are probably negligible in taste, but not in cost.
The next factor speaks to the comfort level of the everyday wine buyer. Most people are
familiar with Chardonnay’s, Pinot Grigio’s, Merlot’s and Cabernet Sauvignon’s, and feel
comfortable buying these wines. The “popularity” of these wines pushes their prices upwards,
whether they deserve it or not. Lingering in the backround are grapes unfamiliar to most
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