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Where to find good value when choosing a bottle of wine

How to Drink Better: There are many things to consider when selecting a wine

Q. Who makes the best wines and what are the best value wines?

A. We are lucky to live at a time when, thanks to modern technology, most wines are at least drinkable and usually a lot better than that. Don’t believe old soaks who tell you that wine was so much better in their day. Today, wine is more consistent and of better quality than at any time in history. There is also a far greater choice and more interesting wines than ever before.

As to who produces the best wine, it is all down to your personal taste. Every wine region, every country produces a range of different wines. Some will appeal to you, others won’t. It is up to you to decide if you like the wines of a particular area or from a single producer.

As a wine writer, I have to suspend my likes and dislikes and judge a wine against how it is supposed to taste. But you don’t. The best wine is the wine you like the most, and don’t let any so-called expert tell you different.


Price is not really a guide to quality either. Popular wine regions in countries such as France can, and frequently do charge a premium for their wines. So, wine from a well-known area such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape will usually cost more than one from neighbouring villages such as Gigondas, Vacqueyras or Cairanne all just a few minutes’ drive away. It doesn’t mean the wine is any better, and often it isn’t.

Champagne is usually very expensive. A crémant is a sparkling wine made by the same method from outside of the Champagne region. It often offers better value, as do sparkling wines such as cava and corpinnat from Spain.

Because of our tax system, very cheap wine often doesn’t taste great, but once you pay €10 or more for a bottle of wine it should taste pretty good.

The least expensive wines often come either from the very large producer countries (Chile, Argentina, Spain) or from large regions within countries. From France, basic Bordeaux, Côtes du Rhône and Languedoc wines from good producers can offer great value for money. In Italy, the wines of Sicily and the Marches region can be well made and inexpensive. Spain has lots of great value wines from regions such as La Mancha and Valencia. And of course, sherry is one of the best-value wines of all.

New Zealand and Austria are very small in wine terms – less than one percent of world production but their wines are generally very good – and relatively expensive. That doesn’t mean they are bad value though.