Package, Points, Price, & Palate…Wine Purchasing Broken Down To 4 Ps!

When you walk into a wine store, liquor store, or your corner market to buy a bottle of wine, beer, or liquor… what are your thoughts? You need to base your purchasing decision on something… That’s right package, price, palate, or points… I’m curious to know the percentages of people who base there decisions on each of these Ps, which one do you think is the highest? I know there are a lot of people who will only buy wines with a 90 point rating or higher. Some people see an interesting label and can’t say no. I know many people who have tasted a wine, fall in love with it, and go looking for it because they know it’s good; and still other wine drinkers won’t spend more than $X, or less than $X on a bottle of wine! So which factor is the most important? Or do they all carry equal weight? Let’s break each P down, and find out…

Packaging – Your first impression. This is what you see when you walk into the store. If you are a novice, or less experienced wine drinker, you may not have many recommendations on what styles, brands, or regions to try out, so how do you know what you are going to like? Can you really base your purchase solely on the Package? Not surprisingly, many people do for that very reason…there is little else to base your purchasing decision on. So packaging and marketing are a very important part to understand when it comes to your wine purchasing decisions. I wouldn’t say it comprises 1/3 of the experience, I’ll give it about 20-25% of the grade. Having a great label and marketing plan can easily sell bad wine to unsuspecting consumers. Likewise, a fantastic wine with a hideous label will go unrecognized, unappreciated, and unnoticed. So it’s important to find that happy medium. The packaging does not make the wine, but it will help sell the wine. And you as the consumer should know that what is most important is getting great value for your money… Some brands spend the majority of their efforts and money on the Package, and that will reflect poorly on the quality of their wine. These days many wineries are experimenting with different packaging options, putting great wine in a box, which was unheard of several years ago. If you could save money buying a wine that you love just by getting it in a box, would you do it?

Points – Using point values to determine your purchasing decision is kind of like going to see movies based on the critics reviews. I’ve hated movies that got good reviews, and liked movies that didn’t get such good reviews… You have to really trust the opinion of the reviewer/rater in order for these point values to really mean anything… Now if every review of a particular wine is 95+ points, chances are it’s going to be an outstanding wine. I think it is more helpful to get several ratings from different sources for the same wine to paint an overall picture of the wine. If you know your palate is very similar to Robert Parker’s or the people at Wine Enthusiast, or Gary Vaynerchuck who seems to have a very “worldly” palate, then maybe you can trust their reviews and know that if they rate a wine 89, that you will enjoy it and not have to spend a ton of money. I think that if you base your decision heavily on the points, you are definitely closing yourself out to many wines that you could absolutely love, and you may even be setting yourself up for disappointment. That said, let’s move on to a very important factor most people base any purchasing decision on…

Pricing – I would say this comprises about 35-40% of purchasing decision among most wine consumers if not more(of course this is just my guess). When I go into a wine store and ask for a recommendation, very often the wine salesman will ask “how much are you looking to spend?” This is a pretty normal question given the circumstance. Wine varies greatly in range of price, and much of it has to do with where the wine comes from, how it was made, and it’s status in the wine world. The Price of a bottle of California Cabernet Sauvignon can range from $5-$500 depending on various factors, and the same person who drinks a $5 bottle of wine, may want to try a $20, $50, or even more expensive wine someday. So what goes into the Price of a wine? There are many factors that directly determine the end selling price of a wine: the cost of the land, the labor & equipment used in growing and harvesting the grapes, winemaking equipment, storage (oak barrels or stainless steel vats, or other), bottling (or other packaging), corks(or other enclosures), marketing and labels…etc. and these are all the costs associated with getting the wine to wholesale. Then factor in the costs to bring the wine to your restaurants and retail stores, it’s no wonder some wines can be pretty expensive! New technology has helped wineries reduce their costs and at the same time increase the quality, which is why we have such great opportunities to find excellent value wines in the new millennium! So when you consider how much you want to spend, always keep in mind the other, more important P… Palate…

Palate – This is basically the whole tasting experience of wine. Sure there is a lot more to it than just what you taste on your palate, but I like 4 P’s, so just go with it, okay? You’ve seen the Package, evaluated the Points, you’ve paid the Price, now are you going to enjoy what’s on your Palate? If it’s a wine you’ve never had before, you are taking a risk, but that’s what wine is all about… Trying something new. If you love it, you’ll buy it again, and the price or package may not mean so much to you. If you hate it, no price reduction or label change is going to make you buy that wine again, ever. And the other thing is that you may enjoy a wine much more at certain times or with certain people than you would if you were just having a casual glass at home. Wine is an experience, and I think most of that experience is on the “Palate” end of this trifecta.

I believe the risk of balancing the 4 Ps is so much more rewarding when you can find a great wine at a lower to mid price point with a “non traditional” or “outside the box” label, that may not have even been rated. I like artsy labels, and I’m amused by the clever wordplay marketing tactics and outlandish, even crude or offensive labels, but nothing draws me into a wine more than being able to see inside the mind and heart of the winemaker as they pour out their blood, sweat, and tears right on the label, and then you can almost know what the wine will taste like from their description. So few are able to do it, but when they do, it almost seems like the wine has to be nothing less than great! Getting value for your money is what Notable Wine is all about. Being able to share excellent wine experiences is just the bonus!

There are so many excellent wines out there that never get rated by the big guys, so I encourage you to take a risk and try something new or something recommended by a trusted palate like Notable Wine, and share it with the rest of the Notable Wine-ers 😉

So when you buy your next bottle of wine, is it going to be on a recommendation? Will you be drawn in to the label? Or are you sticking with a safe standard you know and love that fits within your budget? I want to know, so leave me a comment, or even better feel free to share the wine with me! Cheers!

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