A master sommelier told us how much you really need to spend to get a good bottle of wine — and it's less than you'd think
There's no reason to pay $100 — or even $35 — for a bottle of wine.
In fact, unless you're looking out for one specific, pricey bottle of wine, you probably shouldn't be shelling out more than $25.
"There is a value curve that is at its peak between $15 and $25 a bottle," said Devon Broglie, a master sommelier who serves as the wine buyer at Whole Foods. "In that price point is where you get an honest, genuine expression of what a great variety is supposed to taste like, from the region of the world that it comes from, made by an actual person."
Broglie says you can find excellent wines at even lower prices — one of his personal favorites is the $8 Autoritas Pinot Noir.
However, finding the gems under $15 can be hit-or-miss. So, take $15 as a good starting point if you want to figure out what wine made from a certain type of grape or from a certain region of the world is supposed to taste like.
On the other end of the spectrum is wines above $25, Broglie's point of diminishing returns.
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Broglie's first reason that customers should be wary about wines over $25 is that above that point, you aren't paying for quality, you're paying for location. Just because a wine is from a certain region (often one that is better known, like a 1990s Cabernet Sauvignon from California), doesn't mean it is better than wines from another area.
The other reason to be wary of wines above $25 due to how much prices can be inflated by supply and demand.
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If a wine starts to become popular, for whatever reason, it is rare that producers can immediately skyrocket production. As a result, prices begin to rise and demand grows.
However, there is a catch.
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"For the customer who appreciates the difference between a $10 bottle and a price above that and who is willing to pay for it — it's worth it," says Broglie.
In Broglie's personal life, he says he doesn't seek out $100 bottles of wine. However, if he's looking at a wine list and spots something he is craving at a good value, he is willing to pay whatever it takes.
In other words, wine is worth what you're willing to pay for it, and not a penny more. A high price tag doesn't guarantee quality — it can mean popularity or signify a certain location instead. But, there's no shame in investing in a wine you're craving or intrigued by, no matter what the price tag in.
"A $100 bottle of wine is not inherently better than a $10 bottle of wine," says Broglie.
But, wines in the $15 to $25 zone are probably your best bet in getting the biggest bang for your buck.
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