Explore the Variety of Modestly Priced Wines

Bearing in mind that I am not the wine expert here at the DIY Bistro, I was the one who found the subject of “variety” intriguing, so here we go. Not varietals, of course, because I’m sure that you’ll see far more qualified writers weigh in on that subject with a great deal of finesse. That sort of thing is just not in my wheel-house.

Our blog is about trying to live well on a budget, and sadly, our budget does not allow us to sample the same variety of fabulous wines that our friend at The Drunken Cyclist and his lovely wife have the opportunity to enjoy from week to week. I hope that you’ve read his tantalizing “What We Have Been Drinking” posts. Wow. I’m fascinated by his incredible descriptions of these often out-of-reach wines – and grateful that he gives us the prices so that I know which ones I can afford to sample and I’m not tempted to run out in search of one of the others, only to suffer disappointment and humiliation at the hands of my local wine merchant. His point-system rankings and recommendations are great, so I encourage you to follow his blog and his lead.

At the Bistro, we must satisfy ourselves with the more reasonably priced wines, along with the odd splurge for our anniversary or a holiday. That being said, we tend to enjoy a fairly wide variety of different wines from different wineries, and we’re not afraid to try new things. We used to know someone who selected “good” wine based solely on price. She would insist on drinking only the more costly wines and would refuse to try anything else, often referring to “lesser” wines as “student wines.” Perhaps my mother just raised me better than that – and thanks, Mom – but cannot one enjoy a hamburger as well as filet mignon? It’s a matter, I think, of what you expect to get from the experience. If you’re eating my fish tacos, spicy and awesome though they may be, I doubt you need a particularly expensive Gewürztraminer as an accompaniment.

In the course of our wine wanderings, we have discovered some “pretty nice drops” as Jon is fond of saying, as well as some “perfectly acceptable table wines” that enrich our culinary undertakings without taking over the spotlight, letting the food remain the star of the meal. That being said, let’s get back to our subject – variety – for a moment. When it comes to reasonably priced – even inexpensive – wine, there is a huge variety, and, let’s be honest, some of them, while incredibly popular with the masses, are truly dreadful. This isn’t always dependent upon the price. I have been shocked and amazed to find a palatable wine for $5 a bottle (though it might leave you with a bit of a headache if you over indulge), whereas a $20 bottle may smell like dirty pool water and be just about as pleasant on your tongue.


My take home message? If you can afford the wickedly expensive stuff, then by all means, enjoy it. If, like us, you aren’t able to indulge yourself to that extent, and you don’t want to drink the same 3 or 4 wines all of the time, then you should be willing to experiment and try new things. It’s not about the label, or the price, or the winery, or even the location, but the variety that lies in all of these things. It comes back to what you’ve heard us say on more than a few occasions now. Find what YOU like. You may find out what you DON’T like in the process, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The true beauty of learning about wine, at whatever level you are, is in the experimentation. In the immortal words of the 18th century poet William Cowper, “Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavor.”

There’s something to be said for the fun of finding a new wine to add to your repertoire of favorites – discovering a new bottle to share with friends when you’re invited over for dinner. And you knew this was coming – watch for sales and specials, use the 6 bottle discount to save 10% or even buy a whole case of a favorite wine when it’s on sale to save yourself some money while you’re at it!

(This is my entry for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge at TheDrunkenCyclist.com. The subject, “VARIETY” was selected by last month’s winner – Frank, of Frankly Wines. Please head over to The Drunken Cyclist to read all of the entries and vote for your favorite!)



  1. so, I am enamored with the wine described in The Drunken Cyclist blog as
    ‘sometimes overblown grassiness or cat pee.” Makes me want to run out and sample it today….regards expensive wine and the like, I had a glass of xxxxx from an $8000 bottle that still bore Napoleon’s wax seal. It was good, but given my admitted lack of sophisticated palate and lack of good taste too, it was no better for me than a $20 bottle of ????? So, I like your approach. Makes good sense to me, and thanks for a well written blog!


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