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  • Wiktoria Szpunar

Cheap vs. expensive wine - what's the difference?


Premium, high-quality wine can cost a few hundred euros, while supermarket shelves are filled with cheap, 4 € wines. Why do wine prices differ so much? What is the difference between cheap and expensive wine? Let’s have a look at wine-price factors!


Handpicked grapes in Ribera del Duero

Despite the obvious costs of importation and taxation, there are many different factors, that affect not only wine quality but also price - starting with grapes growing, and ending when bottles are loaded on pallets. Understanding them is crucial to appreciate the product and story hidden in each bottle. In this article, we will introduce the most affecting ones.

Grapes


Wine price usually depends on the grape variety. Some of the grapes are more demanding in terms of territory conditions and can be grown only in specific regions. As their number is in some way limited, the price is higher. Besides this, the costs can vary because of vineyards' age - the older they are, the fewer grapes they produce. In general, wines made out of old-vine grapes are highly prized and considered to be high-quality.





Oak barrels


Aged wines require winemakers to use oak barrels to get a high-quality product. The cost of those barrels is around 550–2180 € per barrel, depending on the oak type and product quality - which gives an average price bump of at least 1,8 € per bottle. If you have ever bought cheap Crianza in the supermarket, you can suspect it was aged using oak chips or staves (parts of the barrel which are put directly in wine) - so the lower quality, less expensive method.


barrel ageing Ribera del Duero


Packaging


It is not only a matter of storing wine and preventing it from going bad but also part of marketing, letting a winery reach more customers with wine's visual aspects. While fancy label design or propper type of cork seems to be an obvious cost, there are some interesting facts about wine bottles. The first is connected to the punt - divot in the bottom of a wine bottle. Maybe you have noticed some of them, usually in more premium wines, are deeper than others. What does it mean? Paradoxically, just that this bottle (not necessarily wine) was more expensive. However, those are mostly used for very high-quality wine packaging. What is interesting, some wine producers, wanting to underline their product quality, use heavier bottles, which gives a prestige feeling while holding a bottle with wine. Unfortunately, it can also affect transportation costs.



Winemaking methods


Although automation in the winemaking sector is constantly growing, there are still wineries that maintain tradition and highly care about grapes and their final products. Therefore each bottle requires more work, for example when made out of hand-picked grapes. Those wines are way more exclusive but probably also more expensive.


winemaking methods Ribera del Duero

Storing time


Some of the wines are not only aged in oak barrels, as we already mentioned, but also in bottles. Both barrel and bottle aging processes devour winery resources, directly affecting wine price - the longer the wine aged, the more expensive it is. Therefore you can expect Gran Reserva from the same winery and line to be even five times more expensive than Joven.



Marketing and publicity


For all wineries which want to expand - no matter, their size - marketing and publicity costs are crucial. It is worth mentioning that the risk of being bought out by huge concerns because of lack of resources or poor financial situation very often impends over small, local players. Therefore marketing actions to increase their product popularity are one of the most important steps taken to fight to stay within their family tradition.


Family tradition in winemaking