How much SHOULD I spend on a bottle of wine?

Having established in a previous post that most of us are not in the market for spending money on Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s wines, I promised you that I’d share with you my own personal sweet spot for how much you need to spend to get a decent bottle – and just to be clear, we’re talking here about retail rather than restaurant prices. More on restaurant prices another time!

(N.B. Whilst the below discussion does apply to the UK, where I’m based, the principle outlined remains the same – but do adjust as necessary depending on where you are based.)

The key thing to understand is that at lower price points, nearly every penny you spend is actually going towards everything BUT the liquid in the bottle. The graphic below (Image credit: Bibendum Wine) indicates this perfectly. For a £5.00 bottle, you’re only spending 31p on wine. For a £20.00 bottle, only four times the price, you’re spending nearly – wait for it – TWENTY-THREE times that on the actual liquid. 

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

But what’s the actual sweet spot? Well, the answer (as it is to many questions in the world of wine) is that ‘it depends’.

Last time we discussed how the selling price of a bottle of wine is affected by many factors other than simply the cost of production – so, for example, the reputation of the estate, the brand of the wine or region, or the scores given by a critic. And of course there is always subjectivity and personal opinion involved.

You could find that a £10 bottle from a relatively unknown grape or region offers the exact same drinking experience as a £20 bottle from a better-known brand. Yet there will be occasions where you will want to drink the more expensive one, whether that is because you’re impressing friends or because you want to remember a special holiday.

So I can’t give you one single answer as to how much to spend. But I can tell you what I personally do – and it’s generally to aim for the £10 mark when I buy wine for everyday drinking. You can also find £10 wines on time-limited promotions for £7 or £8, say – and I’d happily snap these up.

Whilst there is some decent-tasting and gluggable wine produced at the £5 price point, it often comes with a price squeeze on the producer. Since I’ve visited many vineyards and know how much work these guys put into making their wine, I prefer to aim for a higher price point, knowing that I’m spending more on what is likely a higher-quality liquid and that I’m supporting the winemaker at the same time.

I hope that was helpful. Happy wine-shopping 🙂