What do the numbers 42 and 1500 have in common?

The ratings game bites me again.

I don’t know, maybe I’ve been at this for too long. It will soon be 40 years since I sipped my first serious bottle of wine, and no it wasn’t Mateus; that came about five years before I pulled the cork on a B&G Chateauneuf du Pape (the vintage long forgotten).

Back then – then being the early 70’s – they didn’t have critics and they didn’t have ratings. And they didn’t have a whole lot of choices when it came to “fine” wine. Fine was easily determined then – it had a cork, not a screwcap.

“Back then”, I could not have found a wine over $10 a bottle; every wine was priced in the single digits and you could probably find a few where you got change back from a buck! There was no one to tell you about the wine’s flavor profile, the soil the grapes were grown in, whether it was stainless or barrel fermented, or the winery dog’s name. Hey it was wine, it was cool, it was uncomplicated – and it was cheap.

The world of wine has gone through an amazing evolution since and most days I think for the better.  More people than ever are enjoying it, more wineries are producing it, and given the number of blogs, websites, magazines, movies, and social media tweets and texts, there’s more prose and opinion on wine than a human could digest in two lifetimes.

So, given this information overload you’d think I’d be able to understand and regurgitate the news and nuances of all things wine, right?  Not so fast.  When a friend sent me a note about an email he had just received asking “how it could be that two wines, both red, both rated 95 points, and one retails at $42, the other at $1500”,  I was at a rare loss for words.

Now I’m sure the experts (you know who you are) would regale us on the cost of vineyard land, production expenses, supply and demand, that unsympathetic matriarch of the vine, Mother Nature,  but still… how can two wines both rated 95,  just five measly points from perfect, be that far off in price?

How indeed can that be? A better question might be why would anyone buy the $1500 bottle over the one at $42?

You were hoping for a logical explanation, huh?

Sorry.  The best I can come up with is market forces, cache, point-chasers, trophy collectors, Parkerization, social-media, the blogger-sphere, obscene disposable income, buying wine while drinking it (you know, never food shop when you’re hungry), tax write-off (hmmm.. I like this one), a bucket-list buy, and as unbelievable as it may seem, as an investment. Yes, that “outrageously priced prize of a wine” at $1500, could well sell for double that in a few short years!

I wonder what that 70’s-something bottle of B&G Chateauneuf would be worth today?

Eat, Drink and be merry!

Bruce

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