Why you should (not) pay a fortune for a bottle of wine.
European royalty seems to prefer lesser known wines to flashy Bordeaux brands and vintage Champagne.
During the recent wedding of Prince Albert of Monaco a Provencal blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah for red and Clairette, Vermentino and Ugni Blanc in white were served for the privileged guests. Domaine Saint Albert, instead of Château Lafitte and its Bordeaux peers, was favoured by the Prince.
The earlier British wedding showed a similar trend. Prince William and Kate Middleton (now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) hosted their classy guests with a local wine. A wine from Kent region selling for less than £10 and a non-vintage Champagne from Pol Roger.
Not only the weddings were in the helm of modesty though. Queen Elizabeth II has chosen British sparkling Ridgeview to celebrate her 80th birthday in 2006.
One may ponder about their choice. Are they trying to expose their patriotism? Do they want to exhibit their modesty in the current economically gloomy times?
Only they seem to know the answer.
Global wine frenzy
I would see one plausible reason for their apparently humble choice. In the past decade, and especially in the last two years, the wine market has turned wild. First Growth Bordeaux used to be a joy of writers, artists, doctors and of course the royalty. Nowadays, however, the emergence of super-rich entrepreneurs, the influence of luxury and Western lifestyle-seeking new markets, and surely skilful marketing strategies of the modern wine producers, are all driving prices insanely high. I wrote about these aspects more in-depth in an article on my website winebeing recently.
The privileged cannot be fooled
It is no wonder then that some of the traditional consumers including these on the top layer of our society refuse to pay so much. A bottle of a premium wine today can go up to as much as tens and hundreds of thousands of pounds.
But, are these wines so much better than a wine for £10 a bottle?
Talking to a number of experts in the wine industry it emerged that not always. My recent documentary about current wine pricing will be available soon. Interviews with the big voices in the British wine trade are the core of the film and give you a great insight into what wine is about nowadays.
Beware of some highly-rated restaurants
My own experience taught me to be more cautious about paying a premium price for a bottle of wine even in a Michelin-starred restaurant. Dinner at a highly-rated establishment in Provance turned into a sour experience for me and especially for the person paying for the bottle, my poor partner. We ordered a bottle from a boutique winery in Burgundy Sarrazin for over €600 and it was so bad that we could not finish even a half of it! Putting it against Val d' Iris Cabernet Sauvignon from Provance we drunk couple days earlier in another highly popular restaurant the later was a real bargain. It cost about €40 in a restaurant (€8 a bottle retail) and it enchanted us so much that we had to get it again the following dinner.
A bargain from a top wine producer
Even the Moueix family, who are the owners of perhaps the most prestigious wine on the world - the Château Petrus, make much cheaper but very enjoyable Bordeaux. At a wine dinner organised in London I have tasted a number of them and fell in love with Château Magdelaine. An elegant and extremely interesting red wine for a snippet of the Petrus price.
There are many who believe that only expensive wines can give them pleasure. My experience as a regular sampler of wine at various tastings and numerous visits to wineries taught me that I should trust cheaper wines more. There are, indeed, some treasures in the affordable realm worth exploring. Just forget about the price tag and give them a chance to enchant your palette!
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