The NYT's wine critic Eric Asimov today wrote a piece about whether or not the pleasures of super-pricey wines are "all in your head." Honestly, most everything that could be said about it has really already been said (231 comments and counting on the story at the NYT message board!)
Since I'm not an expert oenophile by any means, I've just got two things:
1. A couple of weekends ago I had my first real "wine country" tasting experience at the Husch Winery in Mendocino County. There I sampled about 12 wines, and only felt I *needed* to buy one based on its total deliciousness: a 2007 Chenin Blanc that turned out to be the winery's cheapest offering by far at $11 per bottle. The woman pouring that day also politely informed me that Chenin Blancs are kind of thought of as the wine world's version of, like, fondue sets. I guess they were super popular in the 70's and have since seriously fallen out of vogue-- can anyone verify this? Cheap, and apparently kind of tacky-- but it was the tastiest to me.
2. The whole debate reminds me of this pretty fascinating Calvin Klein interview Vanity Fair published last month. My favorite part was this, which I found to be surprisingly honest, particularly for a fashion magazine profile:
His father, Leo—who’d arrived in the States from Budapest at age five—was often absent, because of the long hours he put in at the family grocery store, on Lenox Avenue in Harlem. Calvin, a mini merchant-in-training, would visit the store and remembers lots of conversations about the cost of things, a subject which interested him even then. “I would see grapefruits in the fruit-and-vegetable department, and some of them were 29 cents a pound and others were 49 cents,” he recalls. “I’d ask, ‘What’s the difference between the two?’ My father said, ‘Some people like to pay 29 cents and some like to pay 49 cents.’ I thought, Hmmm.
I learned later that that’s the fashion business to a great deal. You pick the spot where you want to be, where you want your products to be. Many people think just because it’s more expensive it’s better. That isn’t always the truth.”