Cheap Wines?

I’m sipping at one right now. Let’s not mention any names, shall we.

A crystal clear Syrah that's unabashedly ruby in colour. Upfront oak, barely discernible red fruits, and I’m reaching to find any peppery spice. Fruity,  medium minus body, thin and cooldrink in its consistency, very light tannins. It’s saved by a decent amount of acidity...but then there’s the barely-there finish. And this is day 2, after chilling it overnight (one of my amateur tricks to bring out more of the wine’s structure).

I’m starting at the point where I can already take a guess at the pricing (it was part of a mystery box from an esteemed negociant). Of course, I don’t know the pricing for sure. But I would be very surprised if these grapes were not mass farmed in a warmer region and vinified with toasted oak staves. 

So why did I buy this mystery box? The concept of a mystery box aligns with my constant goal of finding more everyday, school night wines. I burn through the good stuff at a scary pace. And, bank balance aside, I want to work on getting better at cellaring wines. Stocking up on every day ‘porch pounders’, as our American friends like to call it, feels like a good way to fill the time between now and successful ageing. In South Africa we are extremely lucky to have a wealth of affordable wines that can start as low as R50 (for white wines) and decent red blends at the sub R100 price point. I could name a good few stalwarts in my recycling - but we’re not naming names with the title of this post!

One of the other elements of cheaper red wines is that sometimes their good bones are able to mature and evolve into treasures given a few years. I’ve purchased a few supermarket mid priced labels and hidden them from myself with the intention of opening them up in a decade. With the right amount of fruit, acidity and tannins, these young grasshoppers stand a chance of delivering satisfying value for money. With white wines, quite frankly, I tend towards the lower end of the price range anyway. Give me R100 and I can pick out instant Chenin Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc satisfaction...and still get some pocket change! And let’s not forget about the ridiculously low cost of SA Rieslings and Gewurztraminers.

So that’s my thinking. Purchasing inexpensive wines can be fun and enjoyable, especially in frivolous social settings. Purchasing budget friendly wines are possibly an early investment in wines that will deliver their full potential in years to come. But mostly, purchasing cheaper wines helps save my wine collection’s potential for ageing.

PS. I’m using the rest of this bottle for prop photos and then dumping it.

Leave a Reply