How much should you spend on wine? Now that is a question that could have a million different answers depending on who you talk to. People who enjoy drinking wine usually develop pretty specific preferences and they have also built a wine collection based on a budget. But there are some guidelines you can follow when it comes to shopping for wine in terms of how to shop for wine and how to determine what price to pay.
One of the saddest things that can happen to you is preparing a nice meal, opening a bottle of wine, and discovering the wine choice you made is completely wrong. It’s even sadder when you spent a lot of money and now have an opened bottle you don’t really want to finish. What a waste of money that can be!
Of course, if you are like most people, you will just muddle your way through the bottle and drink the wine anyway. From that point forward though it is good to make a decision to follow some guidelines before you ever choose the bottle of wine.
How much you should spend on wine will be influenced by a lot of factors, but there are three primary categories.
The meal it will be paired with
The occasion where it will be served
Deciding what you will spend on wine requires evaluating all three factors and then coming up with a reasonable amount to spend.
You have a budget for your household expenses which includes food and drink, special celebrations, and expenses related to hobbies or special interests. Your wine expense line item will fit snugly in between these three categories.
For example, if you can afford $20 for a bottle of wine then you will want to find the best $20 wine for the money or even consider high quality wines that cost less so you can possibly buy more.
On the other hand, just because you can afford an expensive bottle of wine doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy one. It all depends on why you are buying this bottle and who it will be served to.
The characteristics that most influence the price of a bottle of wine include the following.
Some countries have a quality classification system. For example, Italian and Spanish wine labels indicate with the quality tier the wine has been assigned. The top tier is the highest quality and will be more expensive than a lower tier.
Some people find a wine they like at a price they can afford and will buy it by the case. Your budget for a bottle of wine should be a guideline and not be a do-or-die figure. You may spend a little more or a little less, but if you find the perfect wine at the right price then it only makes sense to buy several bottles while the price is within your budget.
You probably have read plenty of advice about pairing wine with a meal. The kind of meal you are serving impacts the style of wine you will purchase. A red wine for your hearty meal or a white wine for a summer patio meal is the kind of choice you will be making.
Within each wine style is a full range of wine prices. The vintage, types of grapes, and production processes used impact the price of the wine. The better the vintage, the higher the price. The longer it takes the producer to make the wine, the higher the price. The number of bottles produced impacts the price too. Rarer wines will be much more expensive then the wines produced in millions of bottles.
Some people even buy wine before it has been bottled. The industry term for this practice is ‘en primeur’.
Humans being humans, they will spend more on special occasions. This applies to the food, decorations, travel costs and so on. So when it comes to wine, the same rules apply. If you are celebrating a tenth wedding anniversary, you may want to invest in a more expensive champagne to mark the occasion.
On the other hand, if you are having a party where wine will be served, there’s no sense in buying a lot of expensive wine. Instead you will want to purchase a good quality wine that is low to medium priced and in a larger quantity. Most of your guests will not know the difference if you serve them a $10 bottle of wine versus a $30 bottle.
If you are a wine hobbyist and are collecting wine then you will want to buy varying wines of different qualities. One month you may decide to purchase a $20 bottle of a particular wine to increase your personal collection. The next month it might be a $100 bottle of wine because you want a high quality vintage wine you can store.
Thinking Through the Purchase
There are also specialty and collector wines that can run into hundreds and even thousands of dollars. People who purchase these kinds of wines are either making an investment or have plenty of money to indulge their tastes in wine.
There really are no hard and fast guidelines for deciding how much to spend on wine. You need to evaluate the reason why you are buying the wine, your budget, and the current prices. The one thing you will discover though is that there are bottles of wine priced from a low of $5 a bottle to as much as you want to spend on private collection limited edition vintage wines. In general though, it is wise to spend at least $10 on a bottle of wine.