Can cheap wine ever be what you want to drink?
Have you ever bought the cheapest wine on the list?
Had an interesting experience the other day. We went to an Italian restaurant that we frequent regularly for pizza. Previously we ordered the second most expensive wine on their list as it is one that we love but they recently delisted it. When we got back from Puglia (see our notes on our trip here) we decided to try their Negroamaro Riserva (in the middle of the red wine list). It was a bit too sweet for our taste. This time, because of the knowledge we gained on our trip, we decided to try the Primitivo (the cheapest wine on the list and available by the glass). Before we ordered it, we asked to taste a sip to see if it was also too sweet. The sip we were given was from an open bottle; it was oxidised and had lost all its fruit flavours (no surprise there) but it was not sweet. So we ordered the bottle and very nice it was too with our pizza. We have now cut our wine bill for pizza by at least two thirds and we are very happy about that!
Over the years we have noticed that cheap wine varies considerably by the vintage and for this reason we never buy cheap wine without tasting it first. All the wine trips that we do are motivated by finding half bottles of wine but also by finding good cheap wine. Our approach is to use cost-averaging when buying wine – using the good cheap wine to offset the cost of the expensive (for us that is) stuff we also buy. When you can find really acceptable Burgundy or Bordeaux for €6 or so a 750ml bottle it really does make the expensive bottle that much more affordable.
Everyone loves a bargain and for us that is to find a wine that we really enjoy that is from the cheaper end of the wine offering, be it in a restaurant or a winery. That is a Yes!! moment.