Every once in a while, the term QPR comes up when talking about wine. To the uninitiated, this stands for Quality-to-Price-Ratio. Basically, its a subjective measure of if a wine tastes good for what you paid for it. In wine, there is often a wide gap in qpr's- I have tried wines that cost $6 that were fantastic, especially considering the price. I have also tried $200 bottles of wine that makes me go "eh, I'd rather drink the $6 one." There is an ever increasing disconnect between the quality of a bottle of wine, and the price. The issue that I would like to talk about today, however, is the link between price and (to steal a phrase from those irritating Bud Light commercials) drinkability. I want to explore if there is a link or not between how much you pay for a bottle of wine, and if it is truly drinkable and enjoyable today.
Let me start off by saying that I contend that we tend to drink good wines way too young. Because we are rich, fat Americans that want instant gratification for everything that we do, we pop open the $150 bottle of Napa Cab upon release. Slow down, grasshopper. Let the wine age in your cellar for 10 or 15 years. I also contend that there is an over-arching connection between the price of a wine and ageability. If you look at the truly ageable wines- Classified Bordeauxs, Burgundies, good Rieslings, Napa Cabs, etc, they tend to cost more money. Now, this isn't always the case. There are definitely expensive wines that are ready to drink now, but I think that the less expensive the wine, the closer you are to having it taste good right now. Remember, only about 4% of the wines in the world are meant to be aged more than a year after their release.
So, that leaves us with a bunch of wines that are ready to drink now, and relatively inexpensive. Does the price affect what we think of these wines? Does it affect how much we enjoy them? I ran a very small experiment yesterday, and am humored by the results. Last night, my wife and I had two other couples over for dinner. These aren't wine folks at all- a couple of them are mildly interested in it, but nobody there has more than a bottle or two in their home, if any at all. Just to see what would happen, I put two bottles of white wine on the table- a bottle of Santa Julia Pinot Grigio that would retail for about $10, and a bottle of Ramey Chardonnay that would retail for north of $60. I didn't say anything about the quality of the wines, nor the price. One thing I learned a long time ago is that if you want to know what wine is preferred by the masses, set a bunch of different wines out at a party, and see which ones are finished first. Throughout the course of the meal, the wines were being drank at about an equal rate. A couple of people preferred the more expensive chard, and a couple of people preferred the less expensive pinot grigio. When they were about 3/4 gone, someone asked me what they cost. I just said that the chard costs about 6 times what the pinot grigio did. Guess which one everyone started grabbing for! They immediately talked about how much better the chard tastes, even though the same people were saying earlier in the meal that they preferred the less expensive pinot grigio.
All I'm saying folks is- let your palate be your guide. Just because a wine is more expensive doesn't mean that it's better! To be honest, I actually liked the pinot grigio better last night, especially with the food we were having. If you like it, then it's good. Granted, there are some very inexpensive wines that I refuse to drink (ie Yellow Tail, Charles Shaw, etc), but that's because I firmly believe that they taste horrible, and have little or no soul to them. So, drink what you like, spend money that is within your means on wine, and don't be afraid to try something new!
The Pinot Grigio that we drank was the 2009 Santa Julia, from Argentina (yep- not from Italy, but from Mendoza, Argentina). It is made from all organically grown grapes, and tastes great with grilled shrimp.