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Posts Tagged ‘value wine’

val·ue [val-yoo]

  1. a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged
  2. relative worth, utility, or importance <a good value at the price> <the value of base stealing in baseball> <had nothing of value to say>

 via Merriam-Webster

I tend do get a bit miffed when people use words incorrectly.  Not those times when it is accidentally used in passing.  That is instantly forgivable.  What isn’t is when a word is incorrectly used over and over again without the slightest notation of error.  Marketing and Advertising people tend to do it all the time, which is annoying, but can generally be ignored.  Business people do it with confidence (mostly in airports) in order to place a hot buzzword into a conversation regardless of what the conversation is about.  Industries as a whole have tended to abuse one word in particular and since this blog is about wine, I’ll focus on that industry.  That word is value.

If you ever see value wine listed on an advertisement you should translate that to what they really mean: cheap wine.  Generally, this refers to wines that sell below $10/bottle.  I suppose this came about when the industry was trying to figure out a way to make cheap wines look good to the consumer.  Undoubtedly, someone got a standing ovation at this meeting when they suggested they just switch the name to value wine.  Unfortunately, they forgot to understand semantics.

Here’s the deal: if you change the name of something that people already have a meaning for, the meaning still stays.  Have you ever seen an advertisement for so-called Luxury Apartments?  Most people mentally translate this to an apartment that’s overpriced.  Luxury means extravagant or abundant, yet if you ask someone what meaning that word has, they’ll most likely associate it with expensive.  So perhaps we should start calling all >$50 wines luxurious.

Value means that the price and the quality and your enjoyment of the wine matches the price you pay for it.  Related in semi-mathematical terms:

price = enjoyment x quality

If we want good value:

price < enjoyment x quality

And bad value:

price > enjoyment x quality

Using the real definition of value wine, does the industry’s claim make sense?  Sometimes.  When you’re dealing with lower end wines, you take a greater risk in terms of quality.  Most cheaper wines tend to be mass-produced and sourced from various locations throughout a country.  They focus on consistency in aroma and taste, not quality.  This is like comparing Ikea furniture to something that’s hand-made by a skilled carpenter.  Sometimes, you find that $6 wine where you get exactly what you’re paying for.  That’s a value.  Most of the time you just wish they’d still knock off a couple of bucks from the price because you have little to no enjoyment.

The term, value can therefore be applied to wines at any price, not just the cheap ones.  However, a true value wine is one where the price matches the quality and your enjoyment.  If you find a wine for $10, that you’d be willing to pay $15 for; that’s a good value.  If Two-Buck Chuck suddenly becomes Three-Buck Chuck, then that’s a bad value because it’s really only worth $2 .  Come to think of it, I actually value it somewhere just south of $1, which brings me to my last point:

Value is in the eye of the beholder. 

There are two fixed values in this equation.  The price, which is set by the winemaker/wholesaler/retailer and the quality which all falls on the winemaker.  The price, you can see.  The quality, you can infer by reading a good handful of expert reviews, your previous conclusion of the wine if you’ve had it before or if the wine shop is kind enough to put a solid blurb about it right there.  And then there is your future enjoyment of the wine.  Only you can decide this.  This will depend on what kinds of wines you like, what food you’re having with the wine with and how much you really care about quality.

All I ask is that you don’t let some marketing trick rope you in to only buying cheap wine.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a cheaper wine if it holds value for you.  The same goes for buying an expensive bottle of wine.  Here’s a trick: Buy a bottle of Three-Buck Chuck Merlot (or another equivalently priced) and then buy a $15 bottle of Merlot from Paarl Hills, South Africa, or Walla Walla, Washington or Napa, California.  First determine if each bottle is worth the price you paid for it and then do a comparison.  Does the cheaper bottle hold a higher or lower value in your mind having had the more expensive bottle and then what do you feel about the reverse?  If you feel comfortable doing so, add in wines of the same varietal at higher and higher prices.  That will be  your basis for finding your own value wines.


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