Why is it the U.S. produces so few good wines under $10? Why does Europe produce so many good wines at the same price point?
We asked ourselves these questions after reporting on the World’s Best Value Wines , where the U.S. scored only two wines in the top 40 value wines worldwide. Is it because it costs more to produce wine here than in other countries? Or is it something else?
Maybe it’s because the wine industry wants us to think of wine as a luxury good rather than a daily staple. In California especially, wine marketers shroud wine in an aura of exclusivity, privilege, and special occasions rather than something you drink regularly with meals.
In Europe wine drinkers purchase local, well-made wines for the equivalent of $4-$6 a bottle to have with dinner every night. It’s nothing special, but it’s perfectly drinkable and is often produced by a regional cooperative. Most restaurants serve inexpensive local wines by the glass and carafe. When was the last time you saw California wine sold by the carafe?
True, we have large conglomerates that turn out sub-$10/bottle industrial wine like Two-buck Chuck, Cupcake, and Barefoot. And while these usually sweetish wines appeal to new and occasional wine drinkers, most regular wine drinkers wouldn’t choose them with dinner 7 days a week. Thankfully there are producers of solid value wines like Bogle in California and Columbia Crest in Washington, but these are notable exceptions.
So what’s the takeaway here? Before we become a wine drinking nation we need to have access to good, everyday wine in the $4 to $8 per bottle range. And we need more wineries like Bogle who take pride in consistently turning out good wines that people like and can afford to drink every night.
What do you think? Is there another reason, other than clever marketing, that causes U.S. wines to be more expensive than in other countries? Let us know about wines you like that are under $10 a bottle.