The Honest Difference Between $15 and $30 Bottles of Wine

You can find great wine at any price. So what's the real difference between a $15 and $30 bottle of wine? And, more importantly, is the price jump really worth it? The short answer is that it all depends on what you're looking for: there's no reason to splurge if you're pairing wine with Netflix, but for a nicer occasion, it's worth making the jump. Here's a breakdown of what can make one bottle cost more than another.

Varietal
Some grapes (like Pinot Noir) have naturally smaller yields or are more sensitive to adverse weather. As a result, part of the harvest is lost each year, and less wine can be produced from these varietals than others.

Geography
Grapes that have been sourced from a general area (i.e. "California") are cheaper than those from a specific area (i.e. "Russian River Valley"), and even cheaper than those from a single vineyard within a winery's property.

Source
Wineries don't have to grow the grapes themselves, and the skillsets required for growing grapes and making wine are vastly different from each other. As a result, some winemakers will source grapes from other farmers to cut costs.

Aging
A single oak barrel costs $350 on the lower end, and prices can go upwards of $3000 depending on the quality, type, and origin of the wood. Aging wines in stainless steel or concrete tanks is (as you might imagine) much more affordable.

Time
Every year a bottle spends in the winemaker's cellar instead of a retail store is another year that the winemaker doesn't pay off the cost of that wine's production.

Packaging
Corks are pricier than screw caps, and embossed labels are pricer than simple ones. (That being said, winemakers will always choose to use more expensive packaging materials when they want to ensure their wine's ageability.)

Wine GuidesEric Rydin