“So, what’s a good wine?”…  “What can I buy that won’t break the bank?”

What they’re looking for, above all, is Bang for their Buck. Well, that’s what we’re all looking for, right?

In the trade it’s referred to as QPR, or Quality / Price / Ratio. We’re all in search of wines not only that we’ll like but also won’t leave us feeling ripped off when we taste them.

The sad reality of buying wine for everyday drinking is that you might just have to kiss a lot of proverbial frogs before you meet that handsome prince—or gorgeous princess.

Savvy marketers have identified $20 (in Canada, at least) as being the magic number below which a wine needs to be priced to sell well.

Pucker up. There’s a truckload from which to choose.


Had a Glass to the Rescue

There are a few wine books that I reckon are pretty close to being indispensable. Had a Glass would be one. (And, for a local focus,  any of John Schreiner’s current BC wine guides such as his Okanagan Wine Tour Guide would be another).

Had a Glass 2016 (Random House, $19.95) delivers a treasure trove of widely available wines, all of which sell for under twenty bucks, and many for well under that.

Not to mention the book itself—$19.95, of course.

Had a Glass author James Nevison: a nose for value (image: Klee Larsen)

Had a Glass author James Nevison: a nose for value (image: Klee Larsen)

Province Wine Guy and wine educator James Nevison started what started out as Half a Glass with his good friend and wine-loving co-conspirator Kenji Hodgson. Somewhere along the way, Kenji and his wife, Mai, decamped for the Loire Valley, where they’ve since taken their passion to its logical conclusion. They’ve planted their own vineyard and are happily making wine.

James has stayed the course in Vancouver, doggedly pursuing best values, writing columns and working at a job that probably pays real money, as well as raising a family.
When he asked a few of us wine types to send him a good value recommendation to include in the 10th anniversary edition of Had a Glass, I jumped at the chance to contribute. And put in a plug for one of my long-running faves.

Narrowing it down to 100 wines, all of which deliver value, that also represent the entire spectrum of styles, with a good balance of ‘new’ and ‘old’ world and whatever’s in between, from a range of regions, is no easy task. But Had a Glass nails it every time. And I’m always reassured to find a good number of wines included that I’ve recommended as “Belly’s Best” picks at some time or other.

Plus there’s a wealth of other useful info packed into this little $20 dollar package—from choice of glasses to food and wine pairing hints (with groovy icons) and more—that anyone who wants to broaden their wine adventures will find truly useful.

Had a Glass icons keep it simple

Had a Glass icons keep it simple



There’s a camaraderie that exists between wine writers, sommeliers, judges or what have you—especially when you’ve traveled together. James and I have shared a few memorable trips, none the least of which was a visit to Paso Robles, one of the most beautiful, intriguing and undervalued wine regions on the continent, for sure.

It’s always entertaining to go in search of a slice of local culture. Somehow we wound up in a club, where the music was pounding. There we were introduced to Lil’ Kim’s breathless lyrics, and an ongoing refrain which neither James nor I had heard before…
“My Neck, my back / Lick my —— and my ——”

Even for us well traveled and worldly lads, it was a blush-worthy moment.


Had a Glass 2016. Know someone who enjoys wine and might like to learn more? Go grab them a copy. And maybe one for you too.