John Brown has been a wine and food columnist in West Virginia since the 1980’s. His regular columns appear in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail under the title Vines & Vittles and in The State Journal - a statewide business weekly

Inexpensive Wine: Easier than ever to find !

Inexpensive Wine: Easier than ever to find !
As those of you who regularly read my ramblings know, I am on an incessant search for wines of excellent quality that are also values. A few years back it was easy to despair of the notion that you could easily find good wine at reasonable prices.

To be sure, there are still outrageously priced wines in the marketplace that are immune to conventional economics, particularly those with famous names or those from places which are revered such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Napa. Some wines from these regions are still priced out of all relationship to reality (as I define the term).

Chateau Petrus, which is undoubtedly the most famous wine in Bordeaux, is also the most extreme example of how crazy wine pricing can be. The 2005 Petrus fetches between $3000 and $4000 a BOTTLE! Amazingly, there is a long line of “trophy” hunters just waiting to plunk down their cash for the stuff.

But before you despair, forsake all wine purchases and switch to buttermilk, consider this: there are literally thousands of wineries around the world that are still making good and even great wine at affordable prices. You just have to look a little harder, be adventuresome and be willing to experiment with wines with which you are unfamiliar.

As a matter of fact, I am now convinced that the number of these value wines is increasing. Could this be a trend? I hope so.

World famous (and expensive) Ch. Petrus



In the past, it all came down to supply and demand. When Mother Nature smiles in the vineyard and there is a glut of wine on the world market, prices drop. The converse is true as well. You also have to factor in the tepid economy, which has forced some wineries to lower their unrealistic pricing.

But there is now more to the equation than just supply and demand and a weak economy. The new X factor is the Internet and search engines like Google, Yahoo and Ask.com. Information and pricing on wines which had once been obscure and unavailable are now just a click away.

I have maintained for years that there is a sea of excellent wine out there just waiting to be discovered. Well, now it’s easier than ever to find it, order it and sip it! And all because of the Internet.

Say you like cabernet sauvignon, but are put off by the prices of wines from some producers. Simply type: “highly rated cabernet under $20” onto your search engine and instantly you will be rewarded with an almost overwhelming number of choices.

At this point, you can order the wines online or simply take the list of wines to your local retailer. And building a relationship with folks running the local wine shop is probably the most important way of finding good wines that suit your budget. If the wines you want are unavailable, your wine shop can usually order the stuff for you.

We have a bevy of excellent shops in our state with a remarkable selection of wines from around the globe, and that is where I prefer to make my purchases. However, if you can’t find them locally, you might try the online retailers listed below that ship to West Virginia and many other states.

Here are some of my favorites: wineanthology.com; wineaccess.com; wine.com; and empirewine.com. There are many others, but these are among the ones with both excellent pricing and selection.

To give you a head start, you might want to lock your lips around these delectable wine values: 2007 Crooked Row Merlot ($12); 2008 Di Majo Norante Sangiovese ($12); Cristalino Brut Cava (Spanish Sparkler -$10); 2009 Pacific Rim Gewurztraminer ($13); 2007 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc ($15); 2005 Bodegas Beronia Rioja Riserva ($19); 2007 Trimbach Riesling ($17); and 2008 Hey Mambo Sultry Red ($10 – no kidding this a good one!).
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