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Is Wine Really Expensive in Canada?

Do we pay excessive prices for wines in Ontario? Read on for our viewpoint. The free Vivino app is used by more than 35 million people globally, and they collectively rank the 9.5 million different wines in the Vivino database on a five-star scale. This is not to say that a lower-rated wine wouldn't be tasty to everyone, as we all have different tastes, but it gives a particularly good picture of a broad cross-section of users. A really poor rating should definitely be seen as a red flag. Vivino states that a 3.6 rating on their site indicates “a nice everyday wine,” which is better than 50% of all rated wines. A wine which is rated 4.0 or higher is better than 85% of all wines. Below is a chart indicating the average price (in Canadian dollars) of all red and white table wines reviewed for specific ratings levels. 3.6 $20.05 3.7 $22.66 3.8 $26.36 3.9 $31.21 4.0 $38.28 As you can see, the higher the Vivino rating, the more expensive the bottle of wine. (Luckily our wine guide, What Wines When – 200 Top Value Wines Under $20, has narrowed down 200 of the top-rated Vivino wines under $20. All wines in our book are rated 3.5 and above.)

The big brand name producers have their critics, but they do offer consistency and value. They also conduct extensive consumer research and tailor their wines to meet popular taste profiles. Sure, we do get spoiled when we travel south of the border, but the real bargains are mostly found in their domestic products. Canadian wine prices do tend to be more expensive, and this is the result of several factors, including the fact there is a scarcity of suitable available land and a shorter growing season resulting in lower yields. However, the overall quality of Canadian wines has improved enormously to the point where several cool climate varietals, such as Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, Baco Noir, Cabernet Franc and Gamay, are gaining international acclaim. Don’t get us wrong, we are not unquestioning fans of the LCBO monopoly (they rarely even respond to our email requests for information), but they do seem to use their buying clout wisely.

To read an excerpt of What Wines When, click here.

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