Incontrovertible proof that the wine business has changed forever
The Wine Curmudgeon was at World Market yesterday buying Rene Barbier Mediterranean white, which was on sale for $4. And what did I pass next to the checkout counter on my way to the wine department in the back? A locked display case of Dom Perignon Champagne.
Dom, as it’s known in the trade, starts at around $100 a bottle. It’s not unusual for liquor stores (and even grocery stores) to sell both cheap and expensive wine, but World Market’s philosophy has mostly centered around less expensive wines. In Dallas, its prices are usually the lowest; while there will be some $20 or more wine, it’s rarely anything in Dom’s class. More, after the jump:
Why does this mean that the wine world has changed? First, because Dom Perignon is a luxury brand, and how many luxury brands are sold at World Market? That the company is selling wine in World Market says a lot about how desperate it is to get on store shelves that cater to customers with the slightest resemblance to its demographics. Young women go to World Market to buy bamboo furniture, which is hardly high-end wine.
When Dom started selling to warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s some 10 years ago, the wine business had a fit. I was at a lunch when a retailer, point blank, asked a Dom representative why Dom was trying to take business away from him. The Dom person shrugged and said the company had to put the wine where it would sell. That Dom is in World Market is just another step in this process.
Second, that the recession, despite glimmers of good news, is still depressing high-end wine sales. And what do you do if you’re a high-end wine company with lots of wine to sell but you don’t want to discount prices? Because we haven’t seen any $80 Dom (which is interesting, because World Market is famous for discounting Veuve Clicquot). You find more places to sell your wine, even if they aren’t a perfect for your brand.
Ten or 15 years ago, Dom Perignon in World Market was unthinkable. Today, it’s no big deal. That is a change to ponder.