Great Explorations: Two Simple Ways to Find Inexpensive Wines

Ideas to find inexpensive wine

Are you afraid to pay too much for a bottle of wine you might not like? There is a whole world of inexpensive wines to explore. Photo by wickenden (flickr)

Wine is no place for monogamy. Drink around! Why be loyal to a single favorite, when you can develop loyalties to multiple grapes, vineyards or styles. After all, to enjoy wine is to delight in flavor. Each winemaker brings a slightly different flavor to your table, and part of the fun of wine tasting is to discover unique tastes and intrigue your palette as you explore.

Numerous paths into wine country beckon. If you’re longing to hit the road for some great oenological explorations, here are two ways to find inexpensive wines.

Wines of Lesser-Known Origin = Lower Prices

Reserving a ticket on a wine tour through the actual vineyards and wineries is always an option, but you can take some aspects of the tour from home, too.

Many enjoy developing an understanding of the wines produced by a single region, or appellation. If a wine you enjoy is from Lodi, California, look for some other wines made on adjacent or nearby properties.

Your tour from home, however, is not restricted to your physical location. Pour a glass of faraway origin. Explore wine regions with which you are unfamiliar. By now, most folks know that wine is made outside California, and very well, too, at vineyards in Washington and Oregon. Fewer know that upstate New York and Long Island offer rather unique wines—and watch for the up and coming New Jersey bottlings, too.

Anyone willing to tackle the challenge of growing familiar with the wines of Spain, Hungary, Argentina and Chile can encounter great wines at incredible prices. Head to head, these lesser explored regions often yield wines for which you would not blink to pay double or triple the price.

During the past several decades, wines from Australia have consumed increasingly more rack space at US wine shops, and US consumers have become familiar with the subregions of Australia, too.

Rather than get stuck in a Bordeaux rut (as tasty as that can be!) move around France. Sample the Rhone and Hermitage; taste test the Pouilly Fume from the Loire Valley. Skip the white Zin and relish the Beaujolais from Burgundy.

Second Vin and Second Labels = Second Tier Prices

Some of the greatest wineries developed their stature through careful quality control. Winemakers know that to preserve their pricing status in the market, they must deliver quality, year after year. Grapes, however, do not always cooperate. For various reasons, some may not be quite up to snuff during any given harvest. They may be great, but not superb.

In Bordeaux, winemakers long ago developed a Second Vin for many of their create chateaus. Winemakers reserved the best of their crops for the prestige bottlings, but had plenty of leftovers of truly high quality fruit. Second wines have become enormously popular, and are an excellent way to sample the product of some of the best wineries of the word at, often, significantly lower prices.

California has adopted the practice too. When looking for second wines, it helps to patronize a large wine shop with knowledgeable staff. Be upfront: tell the wine advisor that you are looking for something special in a second wine. He or she should know exactly what you mean, and why you are asking, and be able to lead you to a favorite, low production, overlooked gem.

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  1. I think inexpensive wines are great!

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