How is overly cheap wine made?


I’m currently drinking a wine that costs 3 usd/1.5l bottle. I was wondering how do they manage to sell these at such a low price? What are they made out of?

In: 10

This is just market forces acting on a product with unreliable outcomes. No matter how good the growing year was, there are going to be fruits that are unripe, overripe, bruised, etc etc. Winemakers gather the best for their premium lines, and at the other end there’s the barely usable stuff. Bottom end fruits of other types often have other uses, but not so much wine-suitable varieties of grapes, so they punt it out at low cost just to shift the bulk – it’s all profit of some sort by then, because all the other work has been done.

Here is what a business man familiar with the wine export business in Hungary told me :
You buy wine cheaply directly from the growers/producers and add water and maybe some wine taste enhancers to it. Then you fill it in nice bottles and export it.

To give you an idea of prices, I use my favourite wine as an example:

You get a Tokaji Aszú 5 puttonyos 750ml for about US$ 14 in supermarkets in Hungary. The same wine costs US$ 7 a litre from the producers. The same wine cost US$ 47 per 350ml (!) in New Zealand.

That business man used 1 litre of Tokaji to produce 10 litres if export “Tokaji”…

The low price of this wine is likely due to the fact that it is made from inexpensive grapes and is not aged for long. The grapes used to make this wine are usually of a lower quality than those used to make more expensive wines. They are typically grown in large vineyards, which helps to keep the cost down. The grapes are usually harvested early, which also helps to keep the cost down. The wine is usually made quickly and with minimal aging, which keeps the cost down as well.

Still grapes (plus some additives.) The big points of cheap wine:

* Undistinguished land. In California, Napa Valley is famous for making great grapes, so it commands a premium. The Central Valley is more affordable land, you can grow grapes, they may not win many awards, but you can do volume.

* High-volume production and mechanical harvesting. Keeping labor costs down, accepting more dust and twigs in your grapes. Giant steel vats, not much aging and definitely not in oak barrels. Someone else overproduced? Buy up their dregs.

* Additives. Using whatever cheap land is available and quick production methods won’t make great-tasting wine, but using approved additives can balance the acidity/sweetness/flavor enough to make it drinkable.