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    I Blind Taste-Tested Wines From Different Price Points To See If Expensive Wine Is Really Worth It, And I Have Some Mixed Feelings

    Cheers!

    Hi there! My name is Hannah, and yeah, I love wine.

    Woman holding a bottle of wine
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    I like writing about it, too!

    Trying wine is all fun and games, but buying wine is a different story. I like to keep things simple and affordable, but I do sometimes wonder about the fancier, more expensive wines I'm missing out on.

    IFC / Via media.giphy.com

    While I tend to stick to wines that are $15 or less, my dad prefers splurging on "higher quality" bottles. So I decided to conduct a blind taste test pitting cheap wines against their more expensive counterparts to see if a higher price point really means higher quality.

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    Disclaimer: I know everyone's tastes are different! "Cheap" should not be equated to "bad," the same way that "expensive" should not be equated to "good." This is just a fun little experiment to hopefully find some great, budget-friendly options!

    Here's how it worked: my dad knew which wines we were drinking. My mom, my boyfriend Andrew, and I blindly sampled the five pairs of wines to determine which we enjoyed the most. Then Dad revealed which samples belonged to which bottles.

    Taste Test #1: Chianti

    Two bottles of Chianti wine on a table
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    Corte Alle Mura Chianti Riserva, $4.99 from Lidl.

    Bottle of Chianti wine
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    This wine was mellow, slightly sweet, aromatic, light, and a bit fruity. Everyone found this one easy and pleasant to drink.

    Castello Paneretta Chianti Classico Riserva, $34.99 from Total Wine.

    Bottle of Chianti
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    This wine had a harsher, more astringent smell. The flavor was a bit more dense and tart than the other Chianti, but it wasn't unlikable. Dad enjoyed this wine's complex flavors, but no one else found it to be any better than the first.

    Chianti conclusion: The $4.99 bottle reigns supreme.

    Young man and woman each drinking glasses of red wine
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    The Chianti Riserva Corte Alle Mura was unanimously voted our preferred wine. We were all very surprised that it tasted like such a good-quality wine for such a low price.

    Taste Test #2: Italian Table White Wine

    Two bottles of Italian white wine
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    Bio Bianco Terre Siciliane, $6.99 from Lidl.

    Bottle of white wine
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    This wine smelled and tasted almost identical to its more expensive counterpart. The only difference was that is was slightly sweeter, which Mom and Andrew preferred.

    Saula Gavi White Label, $17.99 from Total Wine.

    Bottle of white wine
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    This wine was crisp and refreshing. Everyone enjoyed it, and I did like it slightly more than the other one I sampled.

    White table wine conclusion: These wines were so similar, I don't think you can't go wrong either way. The $6.99 bottle did, however, win the vote!

    Woman holding a glass of white wine
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    Even the pricier option sampled here wasn't really that expensive, so if someone really liked it a lot more, it would probably be worth spending the extra few bucks. But both were so good and hard for us to tell apart. They were refreshing and tasted pretty high quality.

    Taste Test #3: Chardonnay

    Two bottles of Chardonnay white wine
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    Sierra Pines Chardonnay, $2.95 from Lidl.

    Bottle of Chardonnay
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    This wine had a stronger, sweeter smell and a sweeter flavor to match. While it was refreshing and would make a great dinner party wine, we leaned toward the other bottle.

    Frank Family Vineyards Chardonnay, $29.97 from Total Wine.

    Bottle of Chardonnay
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    This wine was mildly sweet, with a slight tartness at the end. It was a little buttery and didn't have a strong smell. I really enjoyed it and may have had an extra glass.

    Chardonnay conclusion: We all enjoyed the Frank Family bottle more, but considering the "bang for your buck" with the Sierra Pines wine, we'd all be willing to buy it and drink it again.

    Woman holding a wine glass
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    The Sierra Pines Chardonnay tasted more like a general sweet white wine and less like an actual chardonnay. It was very tasty, and for $2.95, it's such a steal. But I love a good, buttery chardonnay, and that's what Frank Family Vineyards delivered.

    Taste Test #4: Rosado

    Two bottles of pink Rosado wine
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    Conde Noble Vino Rosado, $3.99 from Lidl.

    Bottle of pink Rosado wine
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    This one had a slightly industrial smell and flavor. It was refreshing, but not as sweet and crisp as the other rosado. Mom enjoyed it more than Andrew and I did, but no one disliked it.

    San Gregorio Rosado, $10.99 from Total Wine.

    Bottle of pink Rosado wine
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    This was the pricier rosado, but it's still super affordable! Andrew and I thought it tasted slightly like apples and was very refreshing.

    Rosado conclusion: The $10.99 bottle did get the win, but luckily, it's still a great price!

    Woman and man sipping wine
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    It was hard finding another rosado counterpart to put up against the very budget-friendly Lidl version, but it just so happens that both of these wines were nice and affordable. The San Gregorio just had a fresher taste that Andrew and I enjoyed, but my mom really dug the cheaper bottle.

    Taste Test #5: Champagne

    Two bottles of Champagne
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    Comte de Brismand Brut Reserve Champagne, $19.99 from Lidl.

    Bottle of champagne
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    This one had some strong bubbles, which I found enjoyable and refreshing. Mom is not a big fan of sparkling wines, so she was not enthusiastic about this round. Andrew said that this wine reminded him of a sparkling apple cider, without being aggressively sweet.

    Mailly Grand Cru Brut Réserve Champagne, $45.99 from Total Wine.

    Bottle of champagne
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    I found this one to be a bit more tart. Andrew liked that it was less sweet and more tart, so he leaned toward this one. Flavor-wise, I really could not choose a definitive favorite. I liked this one about as much as I liked the other. Mom did not like either and gave me the rest of her glasses. Score!

    Champagne conclusion: You don't have to break the bank to enjoy some high-quality bubbly!

    Two glasses of champagne
    Hannah Dobrogosz

    Maybe my palate is "unrefined," but I enjoyed these champagnes equally. While Andrew slightly preferred the pricier option, I found both of them to be refreshing in their own ways! Since Mom really doesn't like champagne, our results were a little muddled and there wasn't a clear consensus from the group. It's awesome I got to try a champagne out of my league, but would I get it again? Probably not. I'm a young person on a budget — $20 for a bottle is enough of a splurge for me!

    Final thoughts:

    I know that some cheaper wines really do taste as if they cost $2 or $3. We've all fallen victim to one of those syrupy-sweet, hangover juices. But I was so excited to taste these affordable wines and find out that that's not always the case! I've been finding that places like Lidl, Trader Joe's, and Aldi carry some really spectacular wines that taste high quality and don't break the bank. Don't let anyone shame you for enjoying a $6 bottle of wine. As this experiment has taught me, price does not mean you will or won't like something. Find what you like and what works for you, and enjoy it!

    NBC / Via media.giphy.com

    Note: Prices of wines may vary depending on location.

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