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You don't have to break the bank to drink good wine

Wine myth.jpgCheap wine doesn't mean poor quality. This a myth and it's never been less true. Wine doesn't even have to be cellared for years to reach its optimum level. New viticultcultural practices and technological advances in wine production have changed all that. As long as there's no cutting of corners or malpractice when producing the wine and the wine is properly stored once bottled, the wine in your glass is almost always a good wine, writes Reva K.Singh. Wine Spectator columnist and author, Matt Kramer busts the money myth, although excessive taxes distort the price profile in India.

The money myth. This one will never die, I know. But still, it's got to be said: There's very little correlation anymore between the cost of a wine and its intrinsic quality. And once beyond, oh, $30 a bottle, there's absolutely no correlation whatsoever.

It's irresistible to conclude that something more expensive is always going to be better than something cheaper. As Thomas Paine put it, "That which we obtain too easily, we esteem lightly. It is dearness which gives everything its value."

So, OK, I accept that this myth will persist. But I have to add that never in the history of wine has it been less true than today. Winemakers everywhere have advanced scientific educations, equally advanced modern equipment and high ambitions toward quality. The result has been an unprecedented explosion in superb wines from everywhere.

Inevitably, some wines will be better than others. And some wine districts are still improving, with yet more accomplishment to come. But the fact is--and it is a fact--that the old wine aristocracy has been supplanted today by a new wine meritocracy. If you miss this critical fact, then you've missed the most important feature of 21st century wine.

Thanks to this revolution, price has lost potency as a predictor of quality. Simply put, many of today's most interesting, most invigorating--dare I say "best"?--wines are not necessarily high-priced. Many superb wines from Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Oregon, Hungary, New Zealand, Australia and, yes, even California, sell for $20 to $40 a bottle. That may not quite be pocket change. But it's not expensive, either--especially given the quality and originality on offer.

That price tags now tell us anything worthwhile about wine quality is a myth.


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