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Expensive is Better

I’ve been drinking wine with meals for many years, and although I’m no connoisseur, I can easily distinguish the qualities of one wine compared to another, even between two of the same color! (I knew you’d be impressed.) What I’ve never done is kept any kind of record of my preferences. With our last purchase, we resolved to try to rate the wines we drink. Our plan is to buy two bottles of each type, compare like to like, and declare a winner. (Life can be so cruel.) It’s a naive plan perhaps, but we’ve got to start somewhere. As time goes on, I’m sure we’ll encounter pairs of wine where there is no clear "winner." Both wines are equally good--just different. One of the goals of this project is to identify cheaper wines that are "just as good" as the more expensive ones. Perhaps that goal is just as naive.

Earlier this week we opened two bottles of Shiraz, both Australian: a Wolf Blass 2001 ($9.99) and an Alice White 2003 ($7.99) for the first contest. We administered a blind taste test to each other, and there was no question which one we preferred--the Wolf Blass. Not that the Alice White was bad by any means, but it did suffer in every way compared to the Wolf Blass. (The next night, by the way, I drank the Alice White by itself, and tasted in isolation was perfectly satisfactory.) The Wolf Blass is $2.00 more expensive than the Alice White, but it’s also two years older. Is the difference in "quality" (as well as price) simply due to the age difference? I wonder. Either way, in this our first comparison, the more expensive vintage was the clear winner.

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