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10.02.2005

Dan Berger on The Five Levels of Wine

Here's an interesting article from Napa resident and well-known wine writer Dan Berger about the different levels of wine -- five to be exact -- that describe the range of vinous experiences from plonk to Petrus. ( Coincidentally, I've also developed my own 5 tier system, though not for types of wine, but for stages of knowledge about wine -- stay tuned later this week for more on that).

Berger's levels are (as paraphrased by me):

1. Wine-like beverages sold in 3-liter jugs or bags-in-boxes generally below $1-per-750ml-bottle in cost.
2. Bulk wines sold in regular and 1 liter bottles that ring up at around $3 to $5 per bottle in price.
3. Drinking with dinner wines, that range from $5 to $15 in price that range from lousy to great
4. Pricey wines between $15 and $40 in price that may or may not be worth the money
5. Collector wines from $40 to infinity, some of which are worth the the money, many of which are not

Dan has some interesting commentary about the types of wines in each category and the folks that buy them, so I suggest reading his article about them. One of the facts that he shares about this breakdown is that the first two categories of wine represent about 80% of the wine made in the world, with the remaining 20% being split amongst the latter three categories. This definitely jives with the recent reports about the most popular brands of wine ordered in restaurants in the US, and is a good reminder how most of us who drink $15 to $30 bottles weekly are quite fortunate.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.