I recently picked up a copy of George Taber’s book A Toast to Bargain Wines. I couldn’t wait to read the book given that I am a big fan of George Tabor’s Judgment of Paris book, as well as budget wine. This was a book that combined the two of them. And, I appreciated the fact that Mr. Tabor was going to champion “budget wines” or “bargain wines” as he called them. Not surprisingly, I hang out with a number of wine people, and most of them aren’t big fans of “budget wines”. They are constantly surprised that we drink $10 California Cabs and $5 wines. During the week, we mainly drink wines in the $10 and under category. Seriously, who can afford to drink a $30 or $50 wine every night. I wish that we had that kind of money but we just don’t. So, I am on the constant hunt for good wine at good prices. Something that we can pop open on a Tuesday or Wednesday night without giving me heart palpitations when thinking about the cost.
George Tabor apparently is of the same mindset and explorers it in A Toast to Bargain Wines. In the book, Mr. Tabor first examines the factors that affect the purchase and consumption of wine. He delves into the issue of taste sensitivity and the impact that that is has on the type of wine that people like to consume. Mr. Tabor explores the Hanni phenotypes and the type of wines that each of the types like to drink and how it drives the sweet tasters into closet White Zin and sweet wine drinkers. We say, came out of the closet and enjoy the wine that you like. Mr. Tabor then goes on to look at the world of wine judging at the California State Fair and the impact of wine critics and their bias towards wine on the higher end of the cost spectrum. But, to be fair, if cost weren’t a factor, it would be hard not to skew to the high end.
After examining the factors that drive wine purchase and consumption, Mr. Tabor discusses the new guard in the wine business. People who are revolutionizing the wine that we drink wine and the price of that wine. Mr. Tabor delves into the stories of the men behind “Two Buck Chuck” and Yellowtail, as well as the first premium box of wine. He examines how these men strive to maintain quality and while holding down prices. The stories were interesting and inspirational.
The next part of the book is what consumers may find the most interesting and result in the biggest impact on daily life. Mr. Tabor researched the issue of bargain wines in-depth. He did extensive taste testing of “bargain wine”. After conducting his extensive “experiment”, he devotes chapters and chapters of the book to naming his favorite budget Syrahs and Sauvignon Blancs. Actually, he provides his favorite “bargain” and “splurge” wines for each major grape, as well as a few fun ones. And, the splurge wines aren’t $100 a bottle. Then are more in the $10 – $30 range. Then Mr. Tabor provides his favorite bargain producers from major countries, as well as his favorite box wine. This book is a great template to trying your own budget wine experiment.