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$5 Wine as Salve for the News Cycle

The Feds are moving in to protect the two largest US mortgage lenders so the housing market doesn’t completely cave, President Bush approved offshore drilling, a move that is largely populist pandering to offset the $4 gallon of gas situation that his policies created, Anheuser-Busch, a quintessentially American company if ever one existed,  is selling itself to an International company and this is just the hard news for today. 

Thank God Brett Favre is joining the list with Roger Clemens as aging sports hero turned narcisstic jerk, otherwise I’d have to force myself to care about the baseball all-star game and A-Rod’s affair with Madonna during the slowest sports news week of the year.

Overall, I’m not sure if I should marvel at the resilience of the American economy and our psyche or start building a bunker in my backyard.

Sounds like a perfect time to start drinking inexpensive wine and start saving my spare change in a manner more organized than overflowing inscribed beer mugs, a wedding gift years ago turned utilitarian holder of pennies.

All of this talk in the wine industry about trading up?  Ha.  I’m trading down, way down.  With love and respect to my friend Deb from Good Wine Under $20, I’m talking about good wine under $5.

Professionally, my wife, an editor at a publisher, is working on a book called, “Living Well in a Down Economy for Dummies.”  It publishes next month.  I’m not sure what tips the book includes, but doubtlessly it DOES NOT include good wine pick-ups for under $5—a feature that I’ll do here off and on for the next week or so.

My first pick is the 2006 Covey Run Columbia Valley Gewurtraminer—a pleasant quaffer with more mojo than is deserved at $5, and the package finish is quality too, an area that gets short shrift on the bottom shelf in the grocery aisle.  Drink this with the bagged stir-fry from Costco that replaces the $40 Thai carryout you might have otherwise purchased.
My review can be found here. 


Posted in, Good Grape Wine Reviews. Permalink | Comments (6) |


On 07/15, Anthony Nicalo wrote:

Wine and $5 do not belong in the same sentence. The bottle, closure, labels, foil, etc. cost $3.00. Inside is an industrial product. Economize, heck, even enjoy the cheap beverage, but we live in a ridiculous time when people who are growing real food and wine have to explain it as real. Industrial agriculture should have to tell the truth and then we can call food, food and wine, wine. I am sincerely not being a wine snob about this. If it is tasty, I am happy to try it, but it is a beverage like soda, Budweiser, etc. It is a manufactured product. Jeff, can you help the world think of something to call these $5 beverages?

On 07/15, Dr. Debs wrote:

All wine is manufactured—in the sense that it’s all made. We don’t grow wine. We grow grapes and then have to make them wine. As for industrial, I’m wondering do you mean “mass produced” or “produced by machines” which is something different? Also, what is the role of wholesalers, distributors, purchasers, and governments in keeping wine prices down, down, down in some places and up, up, up in others?

What I know for sure: I’ve got more traffic than ever before since the economic downturn. There is good wine that doesn’t cost a fortune. I’ve had a Czech white wine that was $3.99 and it was terrific. I look forward to hearing about what you find in the under $5 category.

On 07/15, Arthur wrote:


Serendipitously, I found this article today:

On 07/19, Anthony Nicalo wrote:

Hi Arthur,

Thanks for the article link. I must admit that I do not understand how it is a fortunate discovery. The article argues that selected yeasts is an early form of biotechnology. Interesting, but selected yeasts are used primarily in industrial manufacturing of wine.

On 07/20, Arthur wrote:


Selected yeasts are used in ALL wine making. This is particularly true in the New World where - as a result of warmer climate and more abundant sunlight, yeasts called “native” or “ambient” for lack of a better term - are unable to fully ferment the higher sugar content in the must.

It is common to have this mental picture of “industrial” wine made in a factory with churning pistons and smoke stacks. Even the small, “artisan”, “boutique” producer making 300 cases a year employs technology and manipulation. The only difference between such producers and those you might deem “industrial” is only one of scale.

On 07/20, Anthony Nicalo wrote:

I know farmers from the South of France to Australia that successfully ferment with only native yeasts. To suggest that ALL winemaking uses selected yeasts is simply wrong.  The mental picture of industrial agriculture does not include smokestacks. It does, however, include lots of chemical and synthetic inputs and plenty of technological manipulation. The difference between vinaroons (old english for vigneron) is not one of scale, it is one of quality, as they really do not manipulate the grapes. I do agree that many “boutique” wineries, especially in the New World, as you suggest, are industrial inspite of their smaller scale.


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