CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you’re a casual wine drinker, do you think spending more on a bottle buys you better quality? Is really worth it, or should you cast price aside in lieu of taste?
There are many schools of thought, so NBC Charlotte's Bill McGinty did a wine tasting with some moderately pricey bottles and some under ten dollar bottles to put it to the test.
The year 1980, wine wasn’t all that popular and Orson Wells was telling America, “We will sell no wine before its time”.
But times have changed and wine sales are a big business. Americans drank 949 million gallons in 2016. In 2017, sales of California wines alone topped 35 billion.
But do you have to break the bank for a “good bottle?" NBC Charlotte went to Publix at McKee Farms, which has the biggest wine selection of Publix stores in the Charlotte area.
"There are some high quality wines for under ten dollars and there are high quality wines that come in a box.” Tim, the 'bartender' assisting with the experiment, said.
WCNC tested two pinot noirs, three different Cabernets, and three different chardonnays. Some were under $10, some were around $20 and a couple were over $40. We had customers at the store see if they could tell the difference.
First the chardonnay. The Clos du Bois, and Noble Vines are both just under ten bucks, the ZD Wines is $41.99. Our taster Julie said liked the high end -- saying it was smoother.
“See, I do have good taste” she added.
Next up, the Cabernet. The Gnarly Head is $9, the Hess Select is $19 and the Honig is $41, but taster Leslie liked the cheapest stuff the best.
“I would have thought that was cheaper,” Leslie said about a more expensive wine.
Finally, the Pinot Noir. The La Crema is $24.99 and the Chateau St Jean is $9. Our taster Sophia shops by price, but preferred the pricier La Crema.
Summing things up, she said, “do you want a hamburger or a rib-eye?”
Point taken Sophia, point taken.
During this experience, Bill McGinty learned some fun facts about wine -- when you uncork a red, the clock starts running. After two days, the oxygen will start to change the taste of it. When it comes to reds, age matters -- that's why you’ll pay more for a 2014 than a 2017.
In the world of serious wine tasting, they’d scoff at all of this. But at the end of the day, you like what you like. Even the snootiest of wine connoisseurs will tell you there are plenty of good wines out there under $20.
Reporter Footnote: Yes, I really enjoyed this assignment!