Extreme value

If you are over 30, you probably equate wine quality with wine price. Wine makers love you, really love you.

For the under-30 crowd—the future of the wine industry—price and quality no longer match so neatly. That terrorizes some in the wine trade. It helps make others—Bronco Wine Company magnate Fred Franzia, for example—fat, rich, and powerful.

Studies of traditional wine drinkers vividly demonstrate the price/quality relationship. In one study, tasters liked the exact same wine twice as much when told it cost $45 than when told it cost $5. In another study, people enjoyed the wine and accompanying meal much more when they thought the wine came from California than when told wine came from North Dakota.

Throw in high price AND a high rating by Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, Stephen Tanzer, or Jancis Robinson, and you have drinkers enjoying vinegar with a soupçon of dishwater.

Not so younger drinkers. Franzia’s “Two Buck Chuck” shattered wine mystique. Sold for $2; college kids and young professionals could afford it; they liked its taste.

Same time, wine experts chanted a refrain: “Trust your palate. If you like it, it’s good wine.” Young drinkers bought into the idea and added the plumage of rebellion: “My parents drink expensive, but I drink stuff that tastes just as good to me, and I can buy a case of mine for the same price they pay for one bottle of theirs.”

Wine drinkers of all ages rejoice. Good value-priced wines are here to stay.


• Grand Cru Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. Grand Cru Merlot, not so much. California, all $5.

• Crane Lake Chardonnay. Serve cold on hot day, mix in wine punch, open it as the second round of bottles at big summer party. California. $6

• Louis Perdrier Brut. Value-price French bubbly made from five white grapes. $9