Price you pay

Research shows that, unlike most beverage products, price loyalty is much stronger than brand loyalty when you buy wine.

Coke drinkers seldom are persuaded to drink Pepsi because Pepsi is on sale. Wine is different. What you are willing to pay is major factor in what you like and what you buy.

If you are an average wine drinker and there are two Italian Chiantis next to each other, you are more likely to pick the $10.99 bottle over the $11.79 bottle.

The next buyer picks a $25 reserva over a $27 reserva and wonders how people like you can drink cheap Chianti. Third buyer happily grabs a $6 bottle and thinks you and the $25 guy are crazy to blow money on bottles that don’t taste that much different, at least on his palate.

That remains true through almost all price points. The guy who bought the $25 Chianti thinks his friend’s $60 bottle is a profligate waste of money.

The law of diminishing returns also comes into play. If you can buy a 90-point wine for $20, but it costs $80 to move up to the 93-point wine, most people would settle for the $20 bottle and figure the three extra points were not worth the extra $60. “I’d rather buy four $20 bottles than one $80,” they reason.

Low-end wines are exceptions. Sutter Home White Zin drinkers typically don’t buy Beringer White Zin, and vice versa. Others will only drink their favorite Franzia box wine, don’t even suggest same from Almaden. And Carlo Rossi fans will not give up their glass jugs to go slumming with cardboard box wine. Not a chance, sniff, sniff.


• Parducci Pinot Noir. America’s “greenest winery” has winner; bright cherries and berries. $11

• Mapema Sauvignon Blanc. Lemon, lime, flowers, peaches, melons. Argentina. $13.50

• Alexander Valley Vineyard Two Barrel. Equal parts Syrah and Merlot; some blueberry, cherry, plum, chocolate. $14

• Adelaida Schoolhouse Recess Red. Blend of 10 varietals, fermented separately, bright berries, chocolate, spice. $16

• Bodega JA Calvo Casajús Vendimia Tempranillo. Intense, sweet berries, spice, licorice. $21.50

• Far Niente Chardonnay. Lush, round, fruity, lots of spicy oak. $61