This is a subject that has been argued over and over. Let me make it simple. For the average wine consumer it will be extremely difficult based on many studies. If you are a wine professional, sommelier for example, most likely you will be able to tell. But for the majority of us such as myself, who loves wine it would be a difficult task to distinguish the quality of a cheaper bottle of wine compared to another that is much more expensive.
Especially that the same vintage, winery, vineyard and varietal, every bottle of wine will taste different day to day depending on so many factors. Temperature of the wine, storage conditions, transporting method, and even depends on your taste palate that it is ever so changing not only day to day but within different hours of the same day. What you are tasting the wine with, with or without food, what type of food, what you ate a few hours prior to tasting the wine are only a few are only a few factors that may change how wine tastes.
Don’t you see it odd that even experts and wine critics disagree on the same wine rated by them? This is my feeling about wine, it is like food. As consumers we are all different. Our liking varies. Some may like spicy food, Indian cuisine, steak, a vegetarian burger, salad, or a plain grilled piece of fish. If our preference in food varies why can’t our preference in wine be the same? It does not make you any less of a wine enthusiast if you like a $20 bottle of wine and not a $100 bottle of wine .You just may not like that particular taste profile. I have had $20 bottles that I have enjoyed much more than a $75 bottle of wine .I’m sure you have had a similar experience .So next time someone criticizes your taste or knowledge of wine because you did not like and enjoy the more expensive one as much as they did make it clear to them that it is your taste your palate and your preference and make no apology.
American Wine Aficionado