Recently I came across this topic about whether a bottle of wine is worth $100. I had this same discussion with my friend Geoff not long ago. Are we willing to pay $100 for a bottle of wine? More?
Firstly, we should ask ourselves what do we look for in a bottle of wine (it goes without saying that I’m not talking when we only try to find the bottom of the bottle). In my case, wine is a social drink. I don’t like to drink wine alone, either when I’m alone at home or when my partner in the table is not sharing wine with me. For me wine is more than just a beverage, way more than grape juice with alcohol. Besides the fact that on average it took a great deal of effort and work to put that wine into that bottle, I think that wine is a beverage that requires to be shared. Only when you share that bottle of wine with someone who is also appreciating is when you realize how special wine is. Wine is to be shared, to be socialized and to be experimented with someone. You can’t enjoy wine alone as much as you would enjoy the same glass of wine with a friend or your better half. I find the most pleasure in talking about that glass of wine. If I’m the one knowing more about wine, then I enjoy talking and sharing what I know about wine. If it is the other person the one knowing more than me, I love to hear what that person says about the wine and I try to understand and find the same things in that glass. And also learn more.
So once this said, how much would I pay for a bottle of wine? It depends on different factors, of course. A few times I bought a bottle for over $100, but I have to say it was paid by not only me, but also some of my friends. We wanted to drink a special Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, and in one occasion only I bought one bottle on my own. Why? Well, for me those wines were worth of it. Caymus Special Selection, Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon, and especially, Ridge Monte Bello. For me, these wines worth every penny we or I paid for.
But what about other wines? Would I pay 100 euro on my own for a single bottle? Few years ago, I decided that my over/under in terms of how much would I pay for one single bottle would be 50 euro. I think over that amount, you pay more the marketing or the exclusivity rather than quality itself. I have tasted many wines of over that 50-euro mark, like some Vega Sicilia wines, Pago de Carraovejas, Emilio Moro or some Barolos. Were they good wines? Or course they were. Would I pay 100 euro or 225 euros for one bottle? No. They are good, but they don’t give me that extra mile I want in a wine. And I don’t think there is that much difference between a bottle of let’s say, Château Cos d’Estournel and a bottle of Château Le Pin to justify the difference in price.
I have tasted many wines for less money that 50 euro and I got extremely great experiences. Sometimes even paying less than 5 or 10 euro. So as wine lover, where is the turning point in drinking a $220 wine and a $20 one? The price itself shouldn’t be what says which wine is better. When I drink a wine, I want that wine to capture me, to wrap me with its personality, with its character. I want to be taken away by it. Then, that’s a wine I would pay for that money, being it $20 or $220
Finally, another aspect that influences me a lot for paying $100 or 100 euro is with whom I’m going to drink that wine. And I’m not talking about special occasions, but just a person. For me, a special occasion is not my birthday, Xmas or some other festivities. A special occasion is when I’m going to share than wine with someone who will also understand and appreciate that wine. Then I will pay whatever I have to. I will mention only three wines for giving an example. One is well over the 100-euro mark, the aforementioned Ridge Monte Bello. Then a bit below this mark, Clos Martinet from Priorat and Tignanello from Tuscany. They are in the 60-80 range, in the North side of my over/under mark, but if they would be around 100 euro, I would pay it anyway. And then, one of my favorite wines: Turley Dusi Zinfandel from Paso Robles, California. The 2013 is just $45, but I would pay whatever they would ask for it. I hope they are not listening here.
i think it s not only a matter of if I would pay $100 for a bottle of wine, but rather, which wine it is, and more importantly, with whom I would drink it. The company I enjoy the wine with makes the big difference. It doesn’t make the difference what you pay for the wine but rather with whom you enjoy it. I can meet my time lover friend and we share a bottle of wine worth 10 euro and it is a great experience for both. We both love that wine and we share a nice time doing it. Then one day you share a bottle worth $150 and you still love and enjoy that wine. And you happily pay for it. In the end, it comes to with whom you share that wine. Let’s assume you open your most precious bottle of wine, maybe a 1996 wine you paid 15 euro or a Ridge Monte Bello 2012 you paid $180. Your company doesn’t appreciate either wine because he or she is not a wine lover. For you, it is just a waste because the situation didn’t help you enjoy the wine, so you wasted a superb 1996 wine or a 2012 one.
So, answering my own question, definitely, I would pay $100. Either for an extremely good wine as the Ridge Monte Bello or for a wine I would share and enjoy in good company.