How much should I spend on wine?

So the big question is, how much should you spend on wine? Obviously, this is down to budget and personal taste. If you have a penchant for Chablis, then the answer is quite a bit! However, there are some guidelines to make sure you’re getting the best possible value.

What are you paying for?

When you buy a bottle of wine, you aren’t just paying for the wine. You are paying for things like the bottle, packaging, shipping, marketing and of course tax. In the UK, there are two elements to tax:

  • VAT – this is a fixed percentage so increases proportionately with the bottle price.
  • Duty – this is a fixed amount (currently £2.68 a bottle including VAT). This means you pay the same whether you spend £5 or shell out for a £30 bottle of wine. Incidentally, if you like sparkling wines, then you pay a bit more. Currently £3.43 a bottle including VAT (if it’s stronger than 8.5% ABV).

£5 Wine

When you spend £5 on a bottle of wine, over 60% of that cost is tax (£3.06). After the other costs are accounted for, you typically only get about 30p worth of wine. If that doesn’t sound like much, you’re right. You’re really only going to get very basic, mass-produced wine at this price point. 

£6.70 a bottle is the tipping point: this is the first time you are spending less on tax than you are on wine related costs.

What should I pay then?

The following graph demonstrates the relationship between the amount you spend on a bottle of wine and the amount that actually goes on the wine:

As you can see, for a couple of pounds more (£7.50), you’re getting nearly 5 times as much wine value. Double your spend to £10 a bottle and you get about £2.70 worth of wine (9 times more). Double your spend again to £20 a bottle and you get a whopping 23 times the wine value compared to a £5 bottle of wine, despite it only costing 4 times as much. We’re not suggesting you have to spend £20 on a bottle of wine though! We are merely illustrating how the value of the actual wine shoots up as you increase your spend. Obviously wine value doesn’t necessarily equate to wine quality (more on that later). But chances are, you will be getting a lot more quality as you spend a little more.

Because of all of this, we think £10 to £15 is the sweet spot in terms of value for money vs. cost. Therefore, we have focussed a lot of our wine buying efforts on this price bracket. However, we also know that there are some cracking wines out there starting from about £7.50. So this is the cheapest wines you will find on our website. 

Quality

Ok, so logically, the greater the value of wine in your wine bottle should mean better quality, right? Not necessarily!! Countries like South Africa, Chile and Argentina tend to produce wines that are cheaper but if you choose carefully and avoid the mass producing regions, you will get very good quality wine for your money. 

Another factor is some regions are strongly associated with particular wines, notably regions in France (Pinot Noir from Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blends from Bordeaux), but also things like Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. When you buy these wines, you are in part paying for the (deserved!) reputation. Of course, the reason a wine from a particular region has become so revered is down to location specific things like soils, climate etc that work so well with a particular grape. So simply buying a cheaper Sauvignon Blanc from somewhere else will not be a good substitute for a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. And conversely, not all Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs are good because a winemaker’s skills play a very large part as well. 

However, if you buy a wine from just outside a notable region, you will often be benefiting from the same location specific factors, but without paying for the reputation. 

One of our favourite regions for this is Languedoc in France. You often get much better quality wine for your money than you would in a ‘proper’ wine region in France.

So avoid ‘proper’ wine regions then?

Not at all! Having said all of this, we still think there is a time and place for drinking wines from notable regions. After all, they are the best for a reason. But because of this, expect to pay a little more than you might for a similar quality wine from elsewhere. So choose carefully – spending £10 on a Bordeaux most likely won’t get you a very good wine, whereas the same £10 on a wine from a good winemaker in Languedoc will be a delight.

At Vegan Wine Box, we have tried to do some of this hard work for you. We pick wines from across the globe that represent good value for money, that are good examples of wines at that price point and importantly are enjoyable to drink.

Here is a small selection, at different price points, of wines we think are exceptional value for money and really punch above their weight. We hope you enjoy: