We did a very fun blind wine tasting yesterday where we compared expensive wines to reasonably priced wines. Each person or couple brought two wines, one that cost around $100 and a similar one that was reasonably priced. We had four sets of wine to go through. It was an incredibly fun learning experience that I’ll share with you in this article.
The Four Sets of Wine
- Set 1: $150 2014 Raymond Cabernet Sauvignon and $25 2014 Sparrow Hawk Cabernet Sauvignon
- Set 2: $125 2013 Selene Cellars MJA Cabernet Sauvignon and $39 2014 San Clement Cabernet Sauvignon
- Set 3: $90 2008 Vidovich Cabernet Sauvignon and $20 2014 Cabpothesis Cabernet Sauvignon
- Set 4: $125 2015 Daou Soul of a Lion Cabernet Sauvignon-Cabernet Franc-Petit Verdot blend and $32 2015 WineShop At Home Terroir Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon-Petit Verdot blend
The Expensive Wines Won
We were all a bit nervous about whether we would be able to pick out the expensive wines in the sets we tried. We were very impressed with ourselves that we got them all right J It wasn’t always easy. We needed to try each of the wines probably four or five times before we were certain.
The Less Expensive Wines Came Close
This is an important point. Truth be told, some of the less expensive wines were drinking better than their more expensive counterparts. In particular, the San Clement in Set 2 was drinking beautifully. Our explanation: The less expensive wines are meant to be drunk now, while the more expensive wines can benefit from being put down for a few years.
The most challenging of the bunch was Set 4. These two wines tasted very similar. But after many back and forths, we were able to determine which was the more expensive.
All of the wines were great. So if you’re watching your budget, you can happily pick up the less expensive of the two bottles in each of the sets. But know that the less expensive one might taste a bit simpler and likely won’t be as age worthy.
Here is what we found consistently in all of the expensive wines:
- More complexity: While the less expensive wines had deep berry notes and sometimes chocolate notes, the more expensive wines also had earthiness, chalkiness and more depth.
- More opacity: In each set, the wine that was harder to see through was the more expensive one.
- Deeper color: Again, in each set, the darker colored one was the more expensive.
- Age worthiness: We could tell that the expensive wines were more age worthy, perhaps because they weren’t drinking as smoothly right now but it was obvious that they were going to drink beautifully in a few years.
In Our Words
Please enjoy this video we took at the end of our tasting.
At the end of the video, Debra encouraged everybody to do a blind tasting like ours of expensive wines vs. non-expensive wine. If you do one, please invite me!
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A great synopsis of our tasty party.
On one hand it was a bit disappointing that the high priced wines weren’t significantly better, but on the other hand it was good to confirm that a $20-30 bottle of wine can be very pleasing.
For me, I think I will continue to put down a few upper tire bottles for later enjoyment at more special occasions and enjoy the others daily.
Jeff, I completely agree with you. I’m both happy and sad by how close the less expensive wines were to the more expensive wines, and I will continue to buy both.
Oh good, I feel a lot better about my lower-priced wines! I guess I’ll need to drink all of them right now! No aging needed for my stock.
Hee hee 🙂