Good wine is often thought to be associated with price—quite simply, the more expensive the wine, the better it probably tastes…right? In some cases, yes. But research has shown that tasters can’t actually distinguish between high- and low-cost bottles in blinded experiments, and that they often prefer the cheaper wines. You’re not alone: Germans, for example, pay an average of $1.79 for a bottle of wine.
Despite these facts, it’s best not to go randomly grabbing any bottle you can find for $10 or less. So how do you ensure you’re not choosing something that tastes like sludge? Read on as we break down some tips on how to find the best wine for an affordable ($8-$15 per bottle) price, and list some excellent bottles.
1. Experiment, experiment, experiment
Looking to buy a cheaper wine is a good time to experiment with your likes and dislikes, especially with the handy price points. When getting started in budget wine territory, it’s often fun to discover what works—and what doesn’t. To start, ask several friends to each bring a bottle of budget wine for a night of blind taste testing. Or, head to your local wine shop and try and pair a bottle with your evening meal.
Opened a bottle that you just don’t like the taste of? Try and pinpoint if it is the result of the region, grape, or winemaker, and keep this in mind when choosing your next bottle. Instead of getting rid of it, use the wine as a base for a cocktail. At the very least, take comfort in the fact that it probably didn’t cost you very much.