“Not Bad for a (Fill in the Blank)”

This is a phrase I positively despise. I heard it again last night at a wine tasting I attended, during which someone commented that such-and-such a red was “not bad for the price.”

To me, this is the ultimate unnecessary qualification. It’s one you hear a lot in the beer world, too, except there it’s usually more along the lines of “It’s not bad for a major brewery beer.” As if the big boys should get some sort of mulligan simply because of their size.

Well, no, they should not, and neither should a wine get extra credit simply because it comes in at a bargain basement price. It’s either good or it’s not, and if it’s not, then you shouldn’t be compromising your standards by drinking it regardless of price. Period.

(This also comes up when people say to me things like: “I normally wouldn’t drink Beer X, but it was all they had available,” as if someone were holding a gun to their head and forcing the beer down their throats. But that’s a whole other rant.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate good value as much as the next imbiber. Hell, I’m descended from good Scottish stock. But saying that a given beverage represents good value is a lot different than saying that price is a major qualifying factor in its assessment. I repeat: The first quality judged should be whether or not it’s good, then whether it’s good value for the money. Saying otherwise risks damning with very faint praise indeed.

One Reply to ““Not Bad for a (Fill in the Blank)””

  1. I’m guilty of this one. I think in some ways its simply a shorthand for putting a contextual caveat on something. Creemore Lager for example is a beer that I enjoy, but not nearly as much as other locally available products. It falls into the category of “meets my minimum standards” and is welcomed when it is the best thing available.

    The idea of “not bad for the price” may similarly be a shorthand way of saying “While other wines may be better it is decent/good, and particularly appreciated at such a competitive price. That said, I think it is possibly more often used with the implication you inferred – its not that great but what the heck, its cheap!

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