• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Cheap whine

Of all the ostentatious consumers out there -- "Look at the car I'm driving and the clothes I'm wearing, you pitiful, no-taste slobs!" -- wine snobs are the most annoying. So make a note of this to use as ammunition the test time some pretentious, cheese-nibbling, Cabernet-sipping buffoon starts prattling on:

 In a world without price tags or labels, which wines would rule? Food writer Robin Goldstein offers an answer in "The Wine Trials," a new book based on a blind taste test of 540 wines, priced between $1.50 and $150. Goldstein's 500 volunteer tasters, a group that included experts and everyday drinkers, sipped more than 6,000 glasses of wine and recorded their impressions on a simple scale of bad, OK, good and great. Their results might rattle a few wine snobs, but the average oenophile can rejoice: 100 wines under $15 consistently outperformed their upscale cousins.

For instance, after the initial ratings were turned into numbers (1 for "bad," 4 for "great"), a $9.99 bottle of Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut outscored a $150 bottle of Dom Perignon, while Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon, known as "Two-Buck Chuck," bested the $55 version from Stags' Leap Artemis. Several box wines, much derided in some circles, also cracked the top 100. This is what happens when you "get past the jargon and pomposity of wine writing," says Goldstein. "People shouldn't have to apologize for serving cheap wine."

Boy, that'll sure save on dinner parties, eh? Just keep around a few empty bottles that once held the high-priced stuff. Every time we have company, just dump in the Gallo or the Ripple, and our guests will rave about our wine-selection smarts.