The Sweet Spot Price Range To Look For On The Hunt For Cheap Wine

The world of wine can be intimidating for any newcomer — and for an experienced fan. There's a lot to know when it comes to a simple fermented grape juice and the fear of being the person committing the faux pas at the wine tasting is very real for many of us.

This is especially true when trying to decipher price tags. Determining where a wine's value comes from when you barely know what kind of grape to look for can be a serious challenge. Why is one vintage priced higher than another? What even is a vintage? Screw caps are bad, right? 

Luckily, there are a handful of hacks and guidelines out there that can help you save on wine without having to sacrifice on quality. In fact, Insider says that in some cases, opting for the expensive wine can be just as hit-or-miss as picking out the least expensive bottle. You'll still enjoy the wine that cost you $100, but the chances of it tasting like $100 might not be in your favor. A mediocre, but popular wine might even skyrocket in price thanks to that pesky law of supply and demand. So you'll probably be better off with something that falls right in the middle instead.

The sweet spot for quality wine

According to Insider, when shopping for wine, the price points to look for are usually between $15 and $25. Typically, in this range you are going to find a good quality wine that will be a faithful representation of whichever grape or region you've selected. Go much higher than this and you might start to have a mismatch between quality and price unless you know what you're looking for. But go much lower and you might be sacrificing quality.

VinePair points out that wines under $10 tend to be less accurate representations of what you're looking for. Whether they're too sweet, too sour, or spent too much time aging in a barrel, there's a good chance you won't be happy with that discount wine. Eating Well adds that there's a good chance you'll have a killer headache to remember it by in the morning. 

Many of the wines that are priced lower than $10 also tend to be hastily made and might include ingredients like bugs and weeds with the grapes, per Eating Well. It might not directly affect the flavor, but the idea of it will likely be unpleasant for many.

Take the road less traveled

Wine Folly says that one of the best rules to remember when looking for a quality, high value wine is to take the road less traveled. By shopping for wines that come from "value regions," it's easy to save money without sacrificing quality. You can get a fantastic pinot noir from Burgundy, France, but you might also get something pretty great from Spain, Portugal, Argentina, or Chile for half the price. These regions might not have the same pedigree for certain grapes, but that doesn't always mean you won't find great wines coming from these regions.

CNBC says that much of this boils down to simple economics. The real estate and cost of living is going to be higher in regions like Napa Valley and France than in Chile or Portugal. That means those costs have to get passed along to consumers. The name recognition for certain wine houses or brands can also have an effect. If you don't know any of those houses though, all you get is an overpriced bottle of wine.

VinePair adds that if every other wine from a region is around the $35 price point and you found the one that's priced at $10, you probably don't have a quality wine. Instead, try something new and take your taste buds on a trip to Sicily, South Africa, or Chile. Your wallet will thank you.