Discovering Wine (Not Points Above)

In the past few years wine has become my other hobby besides fantasy baseball. Discovering great new wine or “auto buys,” as my colleague Slow likes to call them, occupies a lot of my time. Wine is a beautiful thing, it offers something for almost everyone. There is nothing better than opening a great bottle of wine with friends over a fantastic meal. Some of my best memories can be tied back to special bottles of wine. Finding value is a lot of fun and I’d like to share some of my principles and recommendations with you.

One important point here is that wine is a very personal thing and I’ll be offering suggestions on these pages but find what you like! Do not let other people dictate what is “good” there are a lot of hang ups in wine based on legacies and I think that this can make people afraid to try new things.

  1. Buyer Beware: Napa Valley, Burgundy, and Bordeaux

While these regions are among the most famous and notable the markups for the name make it tricky to find any value. You’re generally going to get something of relatively high quality from these regions but you pay a premium for the name. I do not think it’s worth it when there is world class wine for sometimes 1/5th the cost. Also, these wines are often made in very traditional consistent ways. They can be really phenomenal but there is so much to explore in the world of wine I do not think these regions are the best place to start anyone’s journey.

  1. Learn About Regions Adjacent to the Well Known Names

Building off the rule above I don’t want you to think you have to go way off the beaten path to find value. Wine making has improved in quality a ton over the last 50 years. For the consumer this means we can find drinkable wine pretty much anywhere grapes can be grown. One thing I’ve found helpful in my journey is that if you look just next door to the famous regions you can find amazing wine at half the cost. Some examples of this include Beaujolais in France, Langhe the bigger region where Barolo is found, and many of the regions surrounding Napa/Sonoma. The wine in these places remains really high quality but doesn’t carry the name that layers on additional price.

3.  Explore familiar grapes in new places

Across the world new producers are making high quality examples of the most famous grape varieties. For instance, in New Zealand it’s no secret that Sauvignon Blanc is really good. A great example of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is Dog Point Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. A more recent discovery for myself is the Raats Chenin Blanc out of South Africa. I found it recently for $12 and it could hold its own against wines that are twice the price from the Loire Valley in France.

I’ll continue to highlight new wines/concepts based off of these principles moving forward and hope you will come on this journey with me!

3 comments

  1. I enjoy trying new wines as well, although I do have my favourites, of course. I’m glad to see you feature a South African wine, as we really do have world class wines, mostly at good prices, compared to some big names.

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  2. Spanish and Portuguese wines can also be a great value. South American wines have kind of flooded the U.S. market in recent years. There are a lot of Malbecs. It’s known as a cheap, bold varietal, but there’s a lot of variation between vineyards and some are quite smooth.

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