Are you paying too much for fine wines? | New Brief out, #146 | The Wine Newsletter

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Per Karlsson portrait Britt Karlsson portraitWine consumers often have great respect, not to say reverence, for fine wine. Old vintages, famous producers, famous vineyards. It affects us all at some point. An awe that comes when you realize you have a Grand Cru or something similar in the glass.

Wine is not just a beverage. If it were so, the price range for wine would not be so extreme. A wine cannot taste so delicious so that as a mere beverage it is worth 100, 500, 1,000 euros or more. You pay for the wine’s uniqueness, that it is made in small quantities, because it is world famous, because it comes from a historic vineyard etc. There is nothing wrong with that. As long as you get to see the label and that you know why the wine is so costly. To taste and drink such a wine blind is in a way useless. You are drinking an experience, a story, a rarity, a name, just as much as you are drinking “just a wine”.

Perhaps these super-expensive wines would not fare so well in a blind tastings. Or rather, it is quite certain that the outcome could be surprising. Anything can happen in a blind tasting. A wine that costs $10 can get a higher score than the one which costs $100. There have been many illustrations of this.

Two examples are Chateau Reignac in Bordeaux, a “simple” appellation Bordeaux, and Vina Errazuriz in Chile, who sometimes arrange blind tastings of their wines against well-known and prestigious Bordeaux chateaux. Often with the result that the “simple” wine ends up high up on the ranking.

Another example is a tasting organized a few years ago by La Revue du Vin de France. It was a totally blind tasting of wines in the price range from 3 euros to 3000 euros (including, Chateau Petrus). The participants ranged from amateurs to very experienced professionals. They were not told what the contents or idea of the tasting was. The task they were given was simple: taste the wines blind and say how much they would be prepared to pay for the wine. No wine was given a price tag, blind, at over 30 euros.

Does this mean that you are throwing away your money when buying expensive wines? No, of course not. But one should perhaps not be surprised by some unexpected results in blind tastings. And you should perhaps make sure that when you serve exclusive wines the guests get to see the label. In any case see it in good time before the wine is finished. In order for them to really be able to appreciate the wine at its true “value”.

Britt & Per

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