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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I am a new collector and a real novice. Why are some wines rated at or near the same, but prices vary greatly? What is the rationale?

—Claire J., St. Louis, Mo.

Dear Claire,

The reason that two wines could be rated the same but vary in price is because quality and price aren’t always related. At Wine Spectator, wines are reviewed in blind tastings where neither the price nor producer is taken into account. The results from blind tastings—which focus just on the quality of the wine in the glass—can be very different from tastings where the prices and producers are known. It’s pretty easy to assume that the most expensive wine is better when you see the price tags.

But it sounds like you’re also asking about the rationale behind setting the prices, and that’s up to each producer. They can charge whatever they want for a bottle of wine, no matter how good it is or how much it costs to make. Some people charge as much as possible, while others want to make their wines as affordable as possible. This doesn’t mean pricing is entirely arbitrary—it also reflects the production costs, such as the cost of grapes, vineyard management and development, winery equipment, barrels, labor and packaging. External forces like scarcity, demand and perceived value also come into play.

—Dr. Vinny

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