Life & Lifestyle

Holiday Wine Battle: Cult Wine vs. Celebrity Wine vs. Wine

The holidays are here, so it’s time for wine drinkers to prepare. 

Which wines will you bring to holiday parties or give as gifts? Fancy cult wines? Trendy celebrity wines? Or something from the grocery store? 

Let’s discuss.

Cult Wines

Cult wines are supposedly the world’s best wines, though that’s debatable, given the price/value equation. Years ago, most of them were affordable and available. 

But today, these wines hide in dark cellars, aging only for prestige and to increase in price. Collectors and investors rarely drink these wines.

No one would even know if they’ve turned to vinegar. Capitalism at its finest!

While devoted followers drool over mega-pricey bottles too heavy to lift with one hand, widespread counterfeiting could lead to worthless plonk and an empty bank account.

Scoring such a prestige wine might bring you glances of envy from your friends, but will you share it at dinner? Will you give it to your brother or your mom? And is it a gazillion times better than big-box cabernet? Probably not, so save your money.

Celebrity wine brand
Celebrity wine brand

Celebrity Wines

Celebrities rule today, right? Just check out Instagram: All the Kardashians (so many!). Beyonce. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Selena Gomez. 

Many celebrities are joining the wine business to further glam up their images. Mary J. Blige, Cameron Diaz, LeBron James. With over 120 stars attached to wine, keeping up with them all is challenging.

I said “attached.” Celebrities are not wine growers or winemakers. So, can you trust them? What do they know about wine? Are the wines worth the money or even drinkable? What these folks know is marketing. They want your money to get even richer or get a tax write-off. 

You can find celeb wines everywhere, so picking one up on the way to your mother-in-law’s house is easy. Maybe you can match the wine with her décor. 

Sure, some celebrities have learned a thing or two, but you’ll pay more, regardless. They sure aren’t in it for the love.

Consider a mid-range wine to enjoy
Consider a mid-range wine to enjoy

Just Regular Wines

So, no cult wines and no celeb wines. What’s left? The regular Joe kind of wine that holds “magic”— not the mass-produced boxed wines, canned wines, cocktail wines, or bottom-of-the-shelf wines labeled with feet. 

I’m talking about wines that cost between $15 and $40. Gold lives in this range. When the price runs higher, it makes you wonder.

There are legitimate reasons for some wines to be higher. Local wineries make such small quantities and have such a limited market they must charge more or go out of business. Most of these wines are made lovingly by real people doing good work on the land to craft a singular product for real people.

There is no marketing hoo-ha, financial ju-jitsu, or superstar mumbo jumbo. Just people making a beautiful beverage for other people to share and enjoy.

What could be better than that? 

Be curious about a new wine
Be curious about a new wine

Here’s What You Do to Get a Lovely Bottle of Wine

Find a wine retailer near you. Not a grocery store, a big-box store, or a liquor store. A “real” wine retail store that sells NOTHING but wine. Go inside and talk to whomever you see. Tell the store your price point, then listen. Be curious, adventurous, and willing to try something new.

You and your wallet will be happier and impress your friends and family. An excellent local wine retailer is your best friend.

 Go on now, get started. You have holiday shopping to do!


Jeanne Savelle

Jeanne Savelle writes about wine for wineries, importers, and distributors. She has several certifications from The Wine Scholar Guild and WSET. She has spent 30 years following the wine business around the world. You can learn more at:,

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