Price limits with wine
“If you’re happy drinking AUD $10 bottles, it’s a waste of money to buy more expensive wine.”
I’d like a bottle of good Barolo for every time I’ve heard someone say that.The truth is, we all have our price-limits, whether or not we stick to a strict budget.
I get the reasoning, though. If Joe and Josephine are content with the cheapest sauvignon blanc they can find, who’s to say they should spend more, even if they’re worth millions? They love it. It makes them happy. What could be wrong with that?
The truth is, we all have our price-limits, whether or not we stick to a strict budget. But it’s always puzzled me that some people’s price limit for wine never seems to increase.
I’ve known people who have been buying AUD $15 wine for decades. And they grizzle that it’s getting hard to find decent AUD $15 wine. Well, stop being a tight-wad, is my response, usually muttered under my breath. There is this thing called inflation. You don’t expect your other living expenses to stay the same for years, do you? So why wine?
I once knew a person who complained that Australian Champagne wasn’t as good as French. Not only did this person not realise Champagne comes only from France, but Seaview Brut NV was not a fair comparison to Champagne. One cost AUD $4.99, the other four times as much – for the cheapest non-vintage.
I’m pleasantly surprised when someone I know, who likes and appreciates fine wine, admits they enjoy an AUD $5.99 Spanish red from a supermarket. We know immediately that such a person is not a wine-wanker. He or she is being honest. More than that, they’re cheerfully proclaiming that not all cheap wine is bad wine. Sometimes it can be very good.
There are those who profess to be unable to bring themselves to drink wine that is below a certain level. I’m sorry for them. Life must be hard and cheerless.
On the other hand, there are those who simply don’t want to waste an opportunity to drink the good stuff. And they can afford it. Len Evans used to say we should always drink only the good stuff.
He also said that each of us only has the capacity to drink a certain amount of wine in our lifetime. Therefore, every time you drink a bad wine, it’s like smashing a bottle of good wine against a wall. It’s a bottle of the good stuff you’ll never drink.
As we age, we come to understand this better. We can’t absorb as much alcohol as we used to. Its effects aren’t as easily tolerated. If you’re a wine professional, AFDs (alcohol-free days) are hard-won. And the tiny numbers hidden at the bottom of the back-label that reveal the alcohol content take on greater significance.
These thoughts were prompted by a bottle of Fritz Haag Auslese Riesling 2010 from the Mosel Valley’s Brauneberger Juffer vineyard (7.5% alcohol), which closely followed one of Rieslingfreak No.8 Schatzkammer Riesling 2018 (6% alcohol) from our very own Clare Valley. Both sublime wines. And, as another Mosel Valley winemaker Erni Loosen likes to say, with these wines you can almost drink yourself sober.