Wine prices: How much to pay
(CNN) -- How much should a good bottle of wine cost? That depends on what you're looking for, but quality does not necessarily mean an expensive price tag.
"There are some amazingly good wines for five dollars a bottle," says Karen MacNeil, wine teacher and author of the upcoming book, The Wine Primer. MacNeil groups the $5-7 wines together, the $8-12 wines as another group, and those over $12 as a third group.
She likens wine shopping to clothes shopping. In the lower price range, "It's like going to Bloomingdales bargain basement sale. There may be fabulous dresses, but you have to hunt around a little more." When you get up into very high cost wines, you're paying for "nuance and subtlety, like stitching by hand in clothes," MacNeil says, cautioning that "It is not true that there is a linear relationship between price and quality. A higher price doesn't mean its better. The higher you go in price, the quality differences get smaller."
Take, for example, a $100 bottle of wine and a $10 bottle of wine. "Is the $100 wine ten times better than the $10 wine?" MacNeil asks. "No. Is it better? Probably yes," but with more subtle differences than dramatic contrasts.
Keep in mind the way you plan to drink the wine you buy. "If you're just looking for a group of easy wines to drink (in the) summer, should you pay $30 a bottle? Absolutely not," MacNeil says. You do need to experiment. "Never start by buying the most expensive wines." For example, MacNeil recommends buying some inexpensive wines of a type you think you might like, and every now and then try a more expensive version and see if the extra price was worthwhile.
"The foolish thing people do is figure they should spend a lot." That's not necessarily the case, MacNeil advises, stressing experimentation over expense.