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There’s a reason you can find good, affordable white wine more easily than red

A splurge that doesn't have to break the bank

White wine in glass swirling
Big Dodzy / Unsplash

For many occasions, be it an anniversary, birthday, work promotion, or just any old Thursday, we love to splurge on a truly great bottle of wine. To be sure, there are many options to choose from when it comes to prestigious bottles, and selecting just the right one is often part of the fun. But when looking for that splurge-worthy bottle, have you ever noticed that white wines are more often far less expensive than red wines? No, it isn’t just in your imagination. The truth is, white wines – even the extraordinary, award-winning, impeccable bottles – are generally far less expensive than red wines of the same caliber. But why?

There is a simple reason white wines are generally cheaper than red. The production of white wine is a far less arduous and labor-intensive process than that of red wine. The white winemaking steps are shorter and less involved and, therefore, more cost-effective at the top, which trickles down onto the wine’s price tag. Red winemaking has many labor-intensive steps that white winemaking doesn’t (as often) entail, such as barrel aging and cellar storage. And, of course, the costlier the production process, the more expensive the product will be. Simply put, white wine is easier to make and, therefore, cheaper.

Don’t judge the price tag

White wine being poured at table
Kenneth / Pexels

Does all of this mean that red wine is superior in quality to white wine? Certainly not. One can have preferences, of course, but it should never be said that white wine is inferior simply because it takes less time and labor to produce. In fact, many white wines have just as prestigious and glittering a reputation as the best reds on the market; it simply doesn’t happen as often because of their simpler production.

There is a common irritant amongst people who know wine well, and that is the misunderstanding that a high expense always equates to high quality. While this is true in many instances, of course, it is not and should not be the rule. There are thousands of beautiful bottles on the market for under $20 and truly masterful, completely mind-numbingly magnificent bottles for less than $50. This is especially true of white wine because of its simpler creation, so never let anyone shame you for favoring that cheap grocery store Riesling. Chances are, it’s just as phenomenally delicious as you think it is, and there’s no need to be shamed by the mediocre wine snob who needs to learn a thing or two.

Light, bright white wines like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc are meant to taste young, vibrant and fresh. They are valued for their delicate, fruit-forward, zesty, refreshing flavors and not for their dark and brooding complexities. You can and should have room in your wine cellar (and your heart) for both.

Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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