The message is the same: Don’t rely on price or critics to choose your wine. Make up your own mind. And don’t be shy about buying cheap wine. Who knows? You might like it.
The average wine customer buys based on price point and certain broad parameters: fruity or dry; oaky or not; young New World wines or Old World ones; full-bodied or not; red or white.
Then there are wines that don’t conform to these parameters. I don’t generally like Merlots, but I’ve enjoyed a good Frontera Merlot at my friend JJ’s house. I bought a Cape Mentelle from my local Metro store and liked it but when I bought two more bottles of the same wine from the same place later, they turned out to be duds.
When stocking my home cellar, I go by expert recommendations from Jancis Robinson, Parker, Wine Spectator, or the local sommelier. Access is always an issue, particularly if you live in India where wide selections are not available. So a lot of what we own depends on where we travel. If you visit Europe often, you pick up French wines. If you visit Singapore often, you tend to buy wines from Australia and New Zealand, which are stocked abundantly there.
For the longest time, I’ve used three price points to determine what wine I buy: $12 bottles for home use; $30 for parties; and over $100 for special occasions such as anniversaries.
That’s what I can afford and it has turned out to be a good system in the three countries I’ve lived in: the US, Singapore and India.
Grover’s La Reserve costs about $12 and it is the wine I choose for home drinking. Imported wines start at $30, or ₹1,500 for a decent bottle. As for the $100 wines, I bring them out only when I want to impress.
Turns out I don’t really need to bother.