Most of the prestige wine producers in Europe make a scant number of wines. Of the five First-Growth Bordeaux producers, for example (Chateau Latour, Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut-Brion, and Mouton-Rothschild) all make only one red wine.

Purists would argue, it is true, that each of the houses has a second label (Latour’s is called Les Forts de Latour), and that some of the houses make a small amount of a white wine (Margaux’s is Pavilion Blanc).

But for all intents and purposes, most major houses make very few wines.

Large, cooperative wineries, on the other hand, make many different kinds of wine and the choices are based on market considerataions, or on what they think the consumer desires. As a result, many of these producers make a vast array of different kinds of wines that vary in quality from good to horrid.

And prices for them these wines are, as you would expect, relatively low.

Many California wine companies also make a wide array of different kinds of wines, and most of them try to cover the spectrum of popular varieties. As a result, literally two dozen major wine companies make all of the following: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah, Zinfandel, and a handful add in some additional grape varieties.

They produce all these different kinds of wines because their marketing departments direct them to offer a wide array of wine styles – at the same price points — so they can appeal to those retailers and restaurants that want to have a “core” wine list from one company.

Such a strategy simplifies wine buying, allowing the shop or restaurant a chance to have a cross-section of wines, and yet not have to worry about such problems as vintage changes or price changes or the complexity of multiple business relationships.

This “line of wines” strategy is great for retail and restaurant buyers, but not necessarily beneficial for the consumer. In each “line of wines,” there is one wine that usually represents the best value – and consequently, one wine that represents the worst value! And these wines change from producer to producer.

Consumers never compare to determine who made what, so consumers rarely know which wine in a particular line represents the best value in a given vintage.

So although the different types of wine offer a wide choice, unknown to the consumer is which wine is the best value , or, equally important, which is the worst.