Finding bargains in red wines

Clean and ripe grapes could be mistaken for black currants or blueberries as they take another step toward their transformation into wine at Tranche Cellars in Walla Walla, Wash. (Photo by Richard Duval Images)

A question often asked is why red wine is so much more expensive than white wine.The reasons are many:

  • Red wine grapes cost more. Last year, a ton of red wine grapes in Washington cost $1,157 a ton, compared with $883 a ton for white wine grapes.
  • Red wines are often aged in oak barrels for a year or more before being released. A French oak barrel costs in excess of $1,000. For some producers, those barrels are used for one year only. White wines are made in used oak or stainless steel tanks.
  • Red wines are seen by consumers as having more cachet, and therefore higher prices.
  • If it’s a vineyard designated wine, the cost of those grapes run a bit higher, resulting in higher-priced bottle.
  • Higher-end producers often buy grapes that are custom-farmed, meaning more labor costs per ton, resulting in higher costs. The payoff is presumably higher quality wine.
  • It takes longer to make good red. Time in barrel, bottle aging and time to mature means it’s not ready to sell as quickly as white wine. Time, space, labor costs are all higher, resulting in a higher price tag.

HOwever, there are still bargains to be found, Here are a dozen examples of red wines from Washington, Oregon and Idaho that retail for l$15 or less per bottle. Seek them at your favorite grocery, wine merchant or buydirectly from the winery. Buyby the case to earn and additiona discount of 10% or more.

Cavatappi Winery 2015 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $12

 Italy-inspired Peter Dow continues to spearhead the Cavatappi Winery program he founded in the late 1980s, and these are some of the most affordable, food-friendly wines available. His partnership with Precept means pulling from Oasis, Canyon Vineyard Ranch and den Hoed vineyards in the Yakima Valley, and the juice is bright and nicely herbal with less alcohol. The range of aromas and flavors include sweet cherry, President plum and strawberry-rhubarb compote with pinches of oregano, sage and freshly cracked pepper.

Rating: Excellent

Production: 3,435 cases

Alcohol: 12.8%

Winery website

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