Wine

Wine taste test: Are expensive bottles always better?

Recently, I wrote about 10 tasty wines that cost $15 or less. In response, reader Sid Kaskey wrote:

“I rarely purchase wines costing more than $12 or so. From time to time, I am at a dinner where expensive wines are served. I notice I usually cannot tell the difference between the expensive stuff and the (cheaper wines). I suspect that wine taste is as much about hype as it is about quality.”

He asked me to set up a blind tasting to check out this idea.

OK, Sid, you’re on.

I’m going to list six wines that cost $15 or less, and pair each of them with a wine of the same grape variety costing more than $25. I won’t list the prices.

I’m challenging Sid and rest of you to go out and buy some of these wine pairs, then have someone pour them into glasses while you’re not looking. Then taste them to see if you can tell the more expensive ones from the cheaper ones.

(If you can’t find these exact wines, ask your wine merchant to set up a few cheap/expensive wines from his or her stock on hand.)

To share the cost, invite some friends and make a party out of it.

When you’re done, send me the results of your tasting at fredtaskerwine@gmail.com. Include your name and where you’re from. Tell me which wines you preferred and why. I will publish the overall results.

This is on the honor system. No fair looking up prices until after the experiment.

I realize this is not scientific, since the participants are self-chosen and the numbers are likely to be small. But I think we can learn something.

Pairing No. 1: Chard

▪ 2014 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay, Central Coast, Calif.

▪ 2013 Arrowood Chardonnay, Sonoma County.

Pairing No. 2: Cab

▪ 2012 Frei Brothers Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County.

▪ 2013 Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon, California (100 percent cabernet sauvignon).

Pairing No. 3: Pinot

▪ 2014 McManis Family Vineyards Pinot Noir, California.

▪ 2013 Rodney Strong Vineyards Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley.

Pairing No. 4: Merlot

▪ 2013 Dark Horse Merlot, California.

▪ 2011 Grgich Hills Estate Merlot, Napa Valley.

Pairing No. 5: Riesling

▪ 2012 Kendall-Jackson “Vintner’s Reserve” Riesling, Monterey County.

▪ 2012 Kennedy Shah Reserve Riesling, Yakima Valley, Washington state.

Pairing No. 6: Zin

▪ 2012 “Whiplash” Zinfandel, Lodi, Calif., by Jamieson Ranch.

▪ 2012 Murphy-Goode “Snake Eyes” Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County.

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