Wine bleg

By Felix Salmon
April 1, 2009

A loyal reader writes in with a curious request: he’s lost a bet, which requires him to cough up a bottle of wine that retails for more than $50. But he says he’s “not willing to pay it off honorably”, and is asking if there are any expensive wines with a Wine Spectator score of less than 60. Basically, he’s looking for the worst possible wine in that price range; he says “The wine has to be available either online or in most NY/PA/NJ stores.”

My gut feeling is that any number of Burgundies might fit the bill, or else — if the recipient is anything like me — a particularly sickly Riesling, or a sweet Champagne. Or maybe a high-end vintage white — a Sauvignon Blanc way past its sell-by date, perhaps.

In general, though, this isn’t an easy bet to pay off dishonorably, since expensive wines really do taste better just by dint of being expensive, so long as the person tasting them knows what they cost. In any case they can always be regifted in good conscience. If your friend hates the 17% ABV California fruit-bombs, I’m sure he’ll know someone who loves them. My gut feeling is that the best course of action is to look for a celebrity endorsement, ideally accompanied by a donation to charity. This would be perfect, but it’s too cheap, maybe it comes in a limited-edition magnum?


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A lot of people strongly dislike Cristal, but that might be cutting off his nose to spite his face, since it sells for well over $50.

Posted by minderbender | Report as abusive

Do any of those awful Greek Retsina wines sell for $50 or more? That would be my choice.

Posted by Anonymous Coward | Report as abusive

The guy who sent his imaginary restaurant’s wine list to Wine Spectator to get reviewed included a lot of pretty low-rated wines. 008/08/15/what-does-it-take-to-get-a-win e-spectator-award-of-excellence/

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

The Marilyn Merlot Napa Valley wines don’t taste all that bad, but they certainly are in bad taste. America’s Wine Shop, 398 3rd Avenue, New York,, 800-865-0982 lists the magnum for about $150, so the 750 should be in the right range.

Posted by maynardGkeynes | Report as abusive

Link to Marilyn Wines Velvet Collection 2004 ts/marilyn-wines-velvet-collection-2004? id=gmHJyIL4

Posted by maynardGkeynes | Report as abusive