Wine Prices and Diminishing Return

Wine comes in so many forms and at so many price points. But how can you be sure that your wine is worth what you are paying? There is a very interesting school of thought about this exact matter. One of our wonderful business partners, Bo, reiterates to all of our food and wine tour guests that “the disparity in the quality of wine between a bottle that is $5 and a bottle that is $35 is significant, but the difference in quality between a bottle that is $60 and one that is $100 is much less.” We wholeheartedly agree.


The quality of a three liter jug of wine that you can pick up from the supermarket for roughly $12 isn’t very good. Yes it is cheap. Yes you can turn it into sangria. And maybe yes, if you only have $12 and wish to do a bit of self loathing, you should pick up the jug. But! If you find yourself with $20 to spend, as Bo would imply, the quality in the wine is going to more than double.

So where exactly is that point of diminishing return? For clarification we are specifically referring to wine purchased from a wine shop, supermarket, or other liquor store and not those purchased in a restaurant (the markup on these is a whole other discussion). Well of course this is all is to be taken with a grain of salt (whhhatttt, we’re talking about wine, not tequila!), but generally speaking the quality begins to plateau somewhere in the $35-$45 range. We are not saying that the wine quality above this price is lesser or even equal to the wine below. This is also not to say there are not some fabulous outliers with exceptional quality between then $35-$100 range, because of course there are. This is just to generally say the quality of wine above a $35 price point isn’t going to increase proportionally as it does from a $5 to $15 bottle or better, a $10 to $20 bottle.

As a specific example to this grossly oversimplified statement, take Trader Joe’s two-buck chuck. These days it is selling for a little under $3 (big red flag). If you pour a taste of their cabernet and compare it with a 19 crimes cabernet ($10-13 depending on where you buy it), the difference is going to be obvious. Even the most novice of wine connoisseurs is going to taste the incredibly distinct difference in quality.

Now compare that 19 crimes wine with a cabernet from Josh Cellars (about $19 a bottle), and again the difference is going to be huge. That ~$7 difference makes way more of an impact in this lower price bracket than it would in a price range over $50.

Don’t believe us? Go buy a couple bottles and compare them for yourself! We’d love to hear what you think!