Another idiotic "cheap wine" story in Slate


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Another idiotic "cheap wine" story in Slate

jonasblank | | Nov 2, 2011 02:18 PM

To save everyone some time, this rehashes the same tired following ideas:
- most people can't tell the difference between "cheap" and "expensive" wines
- the price of wines varies widely
- if you spend a lot of money on wine, you will spend a lot of money (a syllogism of breathtaking obviousness


What I don't understand about these pieces is that wine is singled out, as if it is alone among products where some sort of "myths" must be "debunked" to spare the poor consumer from buying more expensive products.

In virtually every product category, a more expensive alternative exists whose attributes may not be that important to the "average" consumer. A few that immediately come to mind:

Clothes - $10 Target shirt vs. $500 Gucci shirt - Both still are shirts
Watch - a Rolex and a Timex keep time equally well
Car - Both a Chevy Aero and a Ferrari can drive at highway speeds
Restaurant Meal - Basic nutrition can be had for $12.99 per person at TGI Friday's, or $500+pp at French Laundry...
Golf clubs - I'm not really a golfer, but I understand you can spend $1000s on these
Audio - More like wine in that the improved attributes of the high-end products may be less obvious to some people

..and so on. Yet there are never articles that say, "Don't buy expensive clothes" or "don't go to expensive restaurants"? Yet it is no more obvious that if you don't really care about, say, watches, you probably shouldn't buy a Rolex. The degree to which the "better" product is "better" is only likely to matter to those who are heavy users of the product and who care more about them.

The fact that there are great bottles of wine that are inexpensive to very inexpensive is not exactly a secret. There are also some pretty amazing food experiences you can have for not much money, and unless you're Tiger Woods, you can probably play just about as good of golf with some cheap clubs as some more expensive ones. But it doesn't mean that ON AVERAGE the "more expensive" products aren't actually better in some ways, and it doesn't mean that the person for whom whatever difference in quality exists is wrong for perceiving, or indeed, enjoying that difference.

... ::end rant:: :)

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