Can A $15 Wine Be Considered Great?

Posted on: January 13th, 2014 by

15 dollar botique

Buckle up, because I’m going to get a little rant-y. I recently read a blog post and a “hear hear” response on Facebook stating that there are no great wines under $15, and to zip it when it comes to saying so in your blog.

Great white shark, "say cheese"

It would be great if you had a wine to pair with this great meal. Sincerely, GWS, MS.

I, however, disagree with the pronouncement and the prescribed action. Let’s first take a look at “great”. What does it mean when we say something is great? (And not the great as in a great white shark.) To the dictionary!

Great: wonderful; first-rate; very good

I don’t think it’s outrageous to call a wine great based on that definition. Is greatness solely defined by price? Can a wine only be great at $50+? Is there a magical threshold, a Mason-Dixon line of where a wine is permitted cross from the realm of the good to great?

Recently I’ve had many things that cost less than 15 dollars that I thought were great. Including:

  • A big, foldable slice of pizza with ham and fresh pineapple
  • A burrito with carnitas, black beans, and fiery salsa verde
  • A thirst-slaking post-shift beer
  • An entire box of Pocky

Can pizza only be great if it’s expensive? Does my burrito require Kobe beef and 24K gold flake salsa? What about the context in which you enjoy something? I’ve had craptastic costly wine in sterile settings that left me cold. Conversely, I’ve clandestinely consumed a sub-$15 rosé on a grassy patch of sunny Seattle summertime waterfront, watching boats pass me by, greatly enhanced by great company.

You know what? That wine was great.

Thanks Kevin Chan for the $15 photo and Mike Davison for the hungry shark.

(Note: Great has a truckload of definitions. A great deal.)

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10 Responses

  1. Yashar says:

    You should get those people who said $15 wines can’t be great and do a blind tasting. Have them choose some wines over $15, a Chard, Cab, Syrah, Sauv Blanc, and then you pick one each of the same under $15. Then have that person blind taste them and see which one they pick

  2. One of my favourite wines is an Italian, Vipra Rossa from Umbria, it is a delicious wine and it matures well with a nice change in flavour even after a year. The bottle costs 6.99 euro’s which is about 5 £. This is a bottle I can afford on a weekly basis and because the price/quality is so good, for me this makes it a fabulous wine. I don’t like spending a lot of money on wine, especially if I can have a wine I truly enjoy for under 10 euros. The fact that I can play with it and leave it for a while to get a more mature taste is a big bonus! That said, I can’t stand a snob so I get your rant 😉

    • Jameson Fink says:


      Thank you for sharing your fabulous wine pick with me. Hmm. Now I’m wondering if I should have titled the post, “Can A $15 Wine Be Considered Fabulous?”. 😉



  3. Just as there as those “great’ $15 dollar bottles there are some seriously lousy ones for $50!

    What I want to know it…where do I find your list of the top 15 bottles for $15 or less that are readily available? I would buy a case of each!

    Do you take post requests?

    • Jameson Fink says:


      That’s a great idea! Can I put you in charge of my editorial calendar? Or bestow on you an honorific title? I’ll comb through the archives and see if I get to 15 for $15. If not, will add some new discoveries.



  4. Kim Sharpe Jones says:

    I love this. It reminds me of that wine shop that used to be at U.Village where every bottle was less than $XX (I think it was $15?), and all were hand selected. I loved that store.

  5. B. Karr says:

    Well Professor ‘iggins ,wouldn’t it be loverly. Not being one of the Hoi Poli all I know is I’ve had some expensive wines I knew could strip furniture, and everybody raved(the Emperors new clothes).I have had some in the $15. range made right here Michigan that were wonderful.(Won national awards)So all you wine snobs crank up your credit cards. I’ll drink the really good wine without you. Best Wishes.

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