Misleading Headline: Case #445

misleading headlineMoneyish, a website owned by Dow Jones has an article with the following headline “Why you never have to spend more than $10 on wine again.”

Has the article uncovered the holy grail of cheap wine questing, the secret all of us have been seeking since getting into the wine racket? No such luck.

A $6 bottle of red wine sold exclusively at Coles supermarkets in Melbourne is getting rave reviews from oenophiles who gave it a unanimous gold rating during a blind taste test.

The Aussie wine, St. Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, earned the coveted “double gold” medal from a panel of sommeliers, retail buyers, distributors and exporters at the Melbourne International Wine Competition last week, beating out 1,100 wine submissions from more than 10 countries around the world.

The article continues in this vein reporting one other instance of an inexpensive wine winning a competition against more expensive rivals. Quoting a retail spirits expert we are told

“You don’t have to spend $50 on a bottle to get good wine. People are making good wine all over the world, and not all of it is expensive.”

There’s a stunning conclusion—some cheap wines are good. Who knew? That’s a far cry from showing that all your wine cravings can be satisfied for under $10 a pop. Try it. I guarantee you will be drinking mostly bad wine.

Wine prices are controlled by supply and demand not intrinsic merit. In good vintages there is always good surplus juice around that can be bottled and sold cheaply. And there are a few producers of bargain wines such as Bogle or McManis who care enough about quality to be consistently good. But they are the exception. Furthermore, those consistent bottles of Bogle Merlot are good but not extraordinary, unique or luscious. If you’re satisfied by “good” and you don’t mind drinking the same thing all the time you can find your bargain wine sweet spot and exist there.

But anyone who really likes wine will seldom find nirvana for under $10.


  1. I agree. I like finding those good value bottles under 10€ but they are the exception rather than the rule. The only nuance is what you also mention yourself in your last sentence, we look at this from a wine amateur’s point of view. People who drink a glass of wine now and then on average spend 3-4€ on a bottle. A bottle that costs 10€ is considered expensive by the vast majority of people…

  2. Too many with the ability to publish do not think carefully about the implications of a their statements. The wise ones answer questions before they come up.

    People like us care too much about words, thoughts and precision to be comfortable with headlines like this. I am sure the writer of article would agree with your conclusion. Journalists seldom write their own headlines, and this one was tabloid in nature.

  3. Those who “really like” wine will never find Nirvana for under $10? I may be an exception. I found the CD NEVERMIND in mint condition for two dollars last month. That is a lot of delectable Grunge for under $10.

    Perhaps you meant nirvana, loosely speaking, in the Buddhist sense of the term–a selfless, enlightened state of liberation from suffering. Personally, I never expect even a smidgen of nirvana from under-$10 category of wines. I think most of your comments and reviews about these budgets wines are spot on. In fact, I did a little calculating during my militant battle with boredom over the weekend. The results: your last 13 budget wine reviews (ranging in price from 7 to 10 bucks) generated an average score of 86.3. This is not nirvana territory. As your blog states:

    “There’s a stunning conclusion—some cheap wines are good. Who knew? That’s a far cry from showing that all your wine cravings can be satisfied for under $10 a pop. Try it. I guarantee you will be drinking mostly bad wine.”

    Yes, indeed! And, perhaps more surprisingly, wines in the $12-$16 range do not fare much better. (The average score for these wines came in at a blistering 87+, just a notch above the budget wines, which means, arguably, less value in terms of price-quality calculations.) Again, hardly nirvana territory.

    Now what? To whom do we wine lovers turn for those precious moments of Nirvana-like bliss? Staying bogged down in the Trader Joe’s circuit of budget wines will lead to more frustration, suffering, and disappointment. However, wines which lead to higher states of consciousness and enlightened experiences are beyond most people’s means. Once again, we appear to be doomed by the same dilemma, an “existential trap” where our incessant desire for well-priced, good-quality wine will result in a soul-destroying emptiness (a state of mind devoid of Parker points and inspirational descriptors).

    1. Happily, budget wines are not “soul-destroying”, just not nirvana-inducing. But it is a matter of deep sadness that the best wines are inaccessible to anyone with a modest income.

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