The Value Of Wine Goes Beyond Dollars

This exotic Greek white is dry but not acidic PHOTO FROM ROBERTO VIERNES

This exotic Greek white is dry but not acidic PHOTO FROM ROBERTO VIERNES

As a wine writer, I struggle with these questions on a weekly basis: What is a wine’s worth? How do we measure the value of a wine? What does value mean to each of us?

I try to find the best values to share with each and every one of you who reads this column. And yet the value of wine can be measured beyond point ratings and dollars. There is something in wine that can make the simple sublime.

Before you go on thinking that this is going to be an existential dissertation on the value of wine, let me stop. Wine easily can be measured in dollars. Every wine’s worth is equal to what the market will pay for it. This is true for a $3 bottle of wine or a collectable bottle that sells for $3,000. Market forces, including supply and demand, determine the price of a wine. Believe me, every winery would love to sell its wines for more money, but if the wine it makes does not meet up to the standard of the price it is charging for it, it will not be able to sell it. That includes a $3 bottle of wine that tastes like garbage. Chances are wine buyers and consumers alike will not buy it — even at that price — because it does not represent $3 worth of wine.

You may ask, conversely, how can a bottle of wine be worth more than a car or a month’s mortgage? Can a bottle of wine taste that good?

Again, supply and demand come into play. Those collectibles are in miniscule quantity and even less availability. Those with the means and appreciation (aka desire) to buy those types of wine perceive that much value in that bottle.

I believe that great value can be found at every price point in today’s wine world. Just look at my Christmas edition of Vino Sense and you will find a whole list of wines at different price points that are worth every penny. I especially love sharing finds that over-deliver for the price tag. But there is more to the value of wine than just the pennies.

I try my best to point out wines that have a sense of place — that sense of uniqueness that the wine can only come from that specific place on earth — the confluence of place, grape, technique and character that make it special. This is what elevates wine above other beverages and adds another layer of value. It gives it a sense of time, and history, even. This also is what separates everyday wines from extraordinary ones, everyday-priced wines to collectibles.

I also would point to the social aspect and value of wine. Let me count the number of friends I have made from sharing a bottle of wine … we might be here a while. How many of my friends do I see only around great bottles of wine? That list is probably just as long. It is said that wine is the best social lubricant on earth. A fellow master sommelier defined it as “the ultimate attitude adjuster.” It makes us happy; we see situations in a different light. Wine also is an extension of the plate. (Thank you, Steve Clifton.) Its connection to food is inseparable, and with it comes the myriad of combinations that we enjoy (some more than others). In this case, the price of the wine becomes secondary, as an inexpensive wine may be a better pair than the more expensive one.

Value in wine can be derived from things above and beyond dollars and cents. This year, I hope to find more of this kind of value in wine along with all the flavor and excitement it brings. And I hope that you share it, too.

Recommendations: 2012 Domaine Skouras Moscofilero ($15) This exotic Greek white has a scintillating aroma of mountain apples, tea rose, flowers and honey with just as complex flavors on the palate. It is dry but not acidic. It has a similar weight to Sauvignon Blanc and goes with much the same types of food. It is GREAT with seafood, salads and goat cheeses. You can find it at Fujioka’s Wine Times. 2013 Crossed Wing Pinot Noir ($32) This is new project by Steve Clifton and Greg Brewer of Brewer-Clifton fame, Jake Shimabukuro (the virtuoso ukulele artist) and Takahide Sugimoto of Japan. The wine is even bolder and richer in style. It shows perfectly ripe, almost candied fruit with a really sexy texture. The oak treatment is light-handed, with just the right kiss of vanilla. This is really impressive in flavor and intensity. It is a lovely match with any pork roast or pork chops.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier.
Twitter: @Pinotpusher