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Cheap wine is the best wine, or, at least, a low price is definitely a factor when choosing a bottle at the SAQ. Unfortunately, affordable wine is on the decline at Quebec's sanctioned liquor store, making a good deal on some red or white much harder to come by.
Wine expert and president of Montreal's Club des dégustateurs de grands vins Yves Mailloux pointed out to JdM how, over the last few years, the SAQ has offered a smaller and smaller selection of affordable wines, the price most of us can actually spend on a bottle. Since 2009 to the present, the amount of 750ml bottles of wine priced lower than $15 went from 1040 to a meagre 510.
What's worse, is that as the SAQ replaces cheaper bottles with more expensive varieties, the quality doesn't go up in all cases. Another wine expert, Philippe Lapeyrie, noted how a Portuguese wine priced at $11 was replaced by a $15.95 bottle, both made by the same producer, José Maria. In Lapeyrie's opinion, the $11 is actually superior to the $15.95 bottle.
SAQ representative Renaud Dugastold JdM that the SAQ has no nefarious plan to remove all affordable wine bottles, and, in a strategy as old as wine itself, blames the government for the price hikes. Sales tax on wine has jumped to 9.975% since 2013, forcing the price of wines that were once $9.95 to rise well above the ten dollar line.
Not all hope is lost for all of us who like to get a little red wine buzzed for under $15, as the SAQ plans to introduce a new line of wines priced at $11.95 or less by next year. Until then, maybe the dep is the best bet for cheaper vino.
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