Value wine

Wine lover holy grail: best possible wine, lowest possible price. 

Tips on how to buy quality wine for around $15 or less:

• Forgo famous regions. When Napa or Bordeaux or Burgundy costs less than $10, avoid. It likely has minimum percentage of grapes required to qualify for the label, and the grapes were ones quality producers refused.

• Explore lesser-know regions. There are great regions people do not yet pay premium to enjoy: Lodi, Paso Robles in California. The Languedoc in southeastern France. South Africa. Portugal. Spain. Argentina, Chile. Pay for value in the bottle, not region on the label.

• Drink white. White wines are cheaper to make than reds. Most whites swiftly go from vine to bottle to deliver brightness and clean fruit. Reds labor on skins, then in oak, then in bottle. All that time and labor adds to cost. A good white will almost always cost less than its quality equivalent red.

• Eschew big bottles/boxes. Sure, 1.5 liter bottles and low-cost boxed wine may seem like value alternatives, but likely they are not. A 750 bottle of wine costing $10 is not the same as a 1.5 liter bottle costing $14. The bigger bottle may not be only half as good, but it likely comes close. Even at low end of wine, you get what you pay for.

• Shun “Champagne” costing less than $10. If label says “Champagne” and it costs less than $10, it is sparkling wine, and almost certainly is plonk infused with carbon dioxide. You can find acceptable sparkling for around $15—New Mexico’s Gruet, Spanish cavas, Chandon from California. If you want bargain fizz, go prosecco, which is good wine and does not lie to you that it is Champagne.

Tasting notes:

• Tarantas Rosé NV: Organically grown bobal grapes—a signature of Valencia, Spain region. Light, lovely effort at terrific price. $8-11

• Alianca Foral Douro 2013: Smooth, easy drinker with plush tannin, restrained acidity, round, rich; huge Portuguese value. $11

• Michael David The Seven Deadly Zins 2013: Florid, fruity, mass market style; MD excels at making affordable, delicious, easily available wines. $15-16

Last round: A $20 bottle of wine that tastes wonderful is a bargain; a $5 bottle that tastes bad is a waste of money.

Facebook: Gus Clemens on Wine.