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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Being new to the appreciating and collecting of fine wines, I have a question. It seems that comparably rated similar wines can have tremendously large price differences. Is it to be expected that wines with the exact same tasting score but, say, a hundred dollars difference per bottle would be noticeably different in quality, or is pricing totally arbitrary?

—Rick K., Windsor, Calif.

Dear Rick,

Spending more money on a bottle of wine can sometimes increase your chances of getting a good one, but price and quality aren't always related. That's why Wine Spectator tasters review wines in blind tastings. Without the taking price or producer into account, every wine is evaluated on a level playing field. Pricing isn't arbitrary, it reflects production costs—grapes, vineyard development, winery equipment, barrels, labor, and packaging. Forces such as scarcity, demand, and perceived value also help determine wine prices.

—Dr. Vinny

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