Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Finding "Best Value" Wines

What are the "best values" in wine? How can you spot a bargain? Regularly in Spirit of Wine, we generate a list of best wine values. We do this in a way that is reasonably precise, though it certainly stops short of being scientifically rigorous.

We start by defining "wine value". Wine value occurs - quite simply - when the perceived quality of a wine exceeds its cost. To assess this on Spirit of Wine, we simply compare the number of ***'s (stars) in each rating to the number of $$$'s (dollar signs).

When the ***'s meet or exceed the $$$'s, that is a wine which represents good value. When the ***'s exceed the $$$'s by two or more, that is an exceptional value - a real bargain. So this is precisely what we are hunting for: wines where the Spirit of Wine quality rating exceeds the cost by two or more categories.

Keep in mind that virtually every wine reviewed in Spirit of Wine is one that was pre-selected based on a positive reputation. In fact, in most cases where one of our reviewed wines has a traditional rating (eg, Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, etc), the rating is 90 or better. So high values within Spirit of Wine already represent the "best of the best". We're tough graders.

Based on Spirit of Wine ratings for many hundreds of wines, best values are selected from the few wines that meet this criteria. When you find a wine where the quality rating exceeds the cost rating by two or more levels - you can be assured of outstanding value. Try this same approach in your own tastings - and keep notes of your own best value wines for shopping in future vintages.

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars.
Think of them this way:
* (ONE STAR): What is this?!! - I can't finish the glass!.
** (TWO STARS): Interesting experience, but I'm ok if this is the last glass I ever drink.
*** (THREE STARS): I really enjoyed this and I'd like it again sometime; but I'll try another wine tonight too.
**** (FOUR STARS): I would refuse to drink anything else tonight.
***** (FIVE STARS): Get between me and this wine bottle at your own risk!!
(PLUS): A plus may be added to any level at my discretion.

Prices mean the following:
$: Practically Free. (generally <$11 U.S.)
: Value Priced. (around $12-20 U.S.)
: Moderately Priced. (around $20-35 U.S.)
: A Splurge. (around $35-50 U.S.)
: Connoisseurs Unite! (generally >$50 U.S.)


  1. with the spirit of value wines- came across this OC Register writeup about getting good wines for a decent price this holiday season. have you tried any of these?

  2. I haven't tried any of those. Thanks for the lead. I thought I tried the Justin, but my notes tell me it just ain't so.