Why Higher Priced Wines May Not Always Be The Best Choice, According To An Expert

Identifying the price range you're comfortable with when buying wine is an important step in keeping your weekday table red from breaking the bank. But, even if money is no obstacle, that doesn't necessarily mean you should be browsing the top shelf every time you go to the wine store. Here to help us understand the dos and don'ts of wine pricing is Amanda Davenport, General Manager and Beverage Director for Noisette Restaurant and Bakery in Denver, Colorado.

"It really depends on what occasion you are shopping for," Davenport told us. "If you're just looking for a bottle for a casual dinner, you shouldn't feel like you have to grab the most expensive option as wine of good value will do just fine." With so many wine brands to get excited about, it can be easy to get carried away and start pulling down every bottle on your bucket list. But, even if big occasions like weddings and birthdays deserve premium wine, that doesn't mean you should be paying premium prices two or three times a week to keep the party going.

Davenport says, "If you are celebrating a special occasion, or want to impress, go a little higher. Generally, you get what you pay for, and those few extra bucks can go a long way." Remember that a higher-priced wine doesn't necessarily mean higher quality, though exceptional wine does often come at an exceptional price. Do a little research beforehand to avoid being disappointed.

Middle of the vineyard road

Most people don't want to look cheap when ordering wine but they also know their financial limits. The interplay of these two social and economic pressures has led to the rise of the myth of the 'second cheapest wine.' Even if you aren't aware that you're doing it, restaurant owners and bar managers understand that the second cheapest wine on the menu is often the most popular. Because customers know that the restaurant knows that they like the second cheapest wine, there's a slew of people who now avoid the second cheapest wine altogether for fear that it's a ripoff. Honestly, the whole thing has gotten much too convoluted.

"When selecting wine based on price, I typically stay in the middle," said Davenport. "Not the most expensive, but not the cheapest." Staying right in the middle is a popular choice for a reason. If you're going for the cheapest wine on the shelf, you're basically guaranteeing lower quality. You simply can't achieve prices that low without cutting some corners (though exceptions do exist). That said, there are lots of winemakers out there who aren't trying to gouge the market for every last penny. They love making wine and they want to share it with other people at a price point that doesn't make them groan inside. If you're a savvy wine shopper, you can experience some incredible vintages at mid-price.