Cheap or Chère?

Can wine experts tell pricier wine from cheaper wine? We put two pros to the test.


Ned Towle, Westchester Wine School

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Glenn Vogt, Crabtree’s Kittle House


Do more expensive wines taste better than lower priced wines? Ned Towle of the Westchester Wine School and Glenn Vogt, wine director at Crabtree’s Kittle House, blind-tasted three California Cabernet Sauvignons—one that costs  $11, another $40, and still another $60. Could they tell the difference? Did quality follow price?

   “The price of a bottle of wine primarily depends on branding/marketing, scarcity, and provenance,” Towle says, “not necessarily its quality.” Still, Towle notes that, in general, a higher-quality wine is “balanced, has more complexity, and a long finish, and, while you might be more likely to find these components among higher-priced bottles, by no means is it exclusive.”

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   After much twirling, snuffling, sipping, eyeing, and spitting, both testers identified A as the lowest-quality bottle. Vogt chose B, the medium-priced wine, as the highest-quality wine, while Towle picked the most expensive wine, C, for the top spot. 

   The lesson here, if there is one? “Tasting wine is very personal,” Vogt says. “It comes down to what you like.”

 Wine A
(2008 Rosenblum Cellars Vintner’s Cuvée $10.99)

Wine B
(2006 Keenan 30th Anniversary $39.99)

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Wine C
(2007 Stewart $59.99)


Least intensity, least balance. Juicy, fruity quality. Alcohol was obvious.
—Ned Towle
“Most interesting, highest-quality nose. Not as complex as C on the palate. Tannin structure needs time to soften a bit. It should age well.”
—Ned Towle
“I detect spice flavors—vanilla, pepper, eucalyptus. Mid-palate complexity. Nice, long finish.”
—Ned Towle
Least complex. Lightest in presence. Most fruity.
—Glenn Vogt
“Most structure of the three. Lots of tannin. A complete experience.”
—Glenn Vogt
“Ripe, shows more fruit, softer tannin.
Medium body.”
—Glenn Vogt


Wines generously provided by Grapes The Wine Company (731 N Broadway, White Plains 914-397-9463;

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