Grading Wine

You may wonder why a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon can cost $5 or $50 or more. There are many factors that go into the price: who, what, where, when, why and how. Let’s look at each factor.

Who – if you made the wine yourself, at home or at a ferment on premises store, then none of the cost of the wine goes to the producer. You even avoid a considerable amount of taxes that are imposed on each bottle. On the other hand, there are some very old and very wealthy wine producers, in the old world particularly, that command a considerable premium for their wines. While the higher prices can be worth something when others know what you paid, the “who” premium does not necessarily add to the value of the wine in the bottle.

What – most wines that call themselves “Cabernet Sauvignon” are required to have at least 75% of the juice from that named grape. But even Cabernet’s from different vineyards get blended. Frequently the better wines will have region specific, if not vineyard specific grapes that are more indicative of the type of grapes used. And then of course some bottles can taste down right watery. Wine you make yourself comes from either regional varietals or blends from various countries around the world.

Where – imported wines will have the cost of overseas shipping included in the price. While some of the best wines in the world come from overseas, the cost of shipping itself does not add any value to the wine. The country of origin will also affect the price, because labour costs are higher in France than in South Africa. Kit companies scour the globe for the best combination of quality and price.

When – wine improves with age, to a point. The commercial wineries store wine on premises until it is ready to drink. That cost is covered in the price. The “when” premium does add value to a wine because young wines tend to be fruity, acidic and tannic. Lighter bodied wines can be released sooner than full-bodied wines, so younger wines tend to be less expensive and have less flavour. Storing wine in your home costs you nothing, but resisting the temptation to finish a batch before the next one’s fermented can be difficult.

Why – the occasion for opening a bottle can have an impact on the price. Not how much a bottle will cost, but which price level you will buy at. For those really special occasions a $200 bottle of Dom Perignon might be necessary. For a lasagna meal with the family on a Tuesday night before hockey practice, a $5 bottle of wine you made would probably work fine.

How – wine can be fermented on the skins or drained off immediately. It can be started with natural yeast or inoculated with a specific variety. It can be fermented in a few weeks or a few months. You can accept whatever this year’s yield will deliver or test and adjust acidity, alkalinity and tannin. And it can be fermented in 10,000 litre vats or 23 litre carboys. The home winemaker can choose how. The commercial wine consumer can choose which bottle.

Blog provided by: Ray Vezeau, owner of Chateau Vezeau Wines, a ferment on premises winemaking facility in Brooklin. www.ChateauVezeauWines.com


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