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Tag Archives: wine prices

How much should an everyday wine cost?

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everyday wine costThe Wine Curmudgeon, working through his tasting notes on CellarTracker (the blog’s unofficial wine inventory web app) found this January comment for the 2007 Robert Mondavi Oakville cabernet sauvignon: “Nice every day wine at this price point.” The price? $45. Is that how much an everyday wine should cost?

Which raises one of the most contentious issues in wine, and one that doesn’t get enough discussion: How much should an everyday wine cost? This CellarTracker user (and no, I’m not going to name names) figures that an everyday wine runs the cost of a car payment each month, $315, and you only get to drink wine seven week nights a month to ring up that total. Even Eric Asimov at the New York Times, whose savvy is as good as it gets, figures discerning drinkers need to spend as much as half of that, in the $18 or $20 a bottle range.

My views on this are well known: One reason Americans don’t drink more wine is that we’re told we have to spend too much money to do so, and so we don’t. Or, as the guy who checked me out in a grocery store several years ago said, when he saw that I had bought several bottles of $10 wine: “Why are you spending so much money on wine?” And he didn’t say it nicely, either.

But my views aren’t the only ones. Hence this poll, courtesy of Ranker (the blog’s unofficial polling app): How much should an everyday wine cost? Click on the respective price range — those of you who get the blog via email may have come to the site to vote. The poll will run until May 22, and I’ll recap the results on May 24. Vote away, and don’t be shy about leaving your opinion in the comments.

Lists on Ranker

Cheap wine can be intimidating

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Cheap wine can be intimidating

OMG, $5 wine!

Sounds weird, doesn’t it? That cheap wine can be intimidating, given that cheap wine’s reason for being is that it’s approachable in a way more expensive wine isn’t. But too many wine drinkers who won’t buy a wine because it’s too expensive are also wary of buying a wine because it doesn’t cost enough.

The Wine Curmudgeon saw this again over the weekend, when a couple of old pals came to visit. They are far from wine snobs, and revel in finding value in cheap wine. But when I recommended the $5 Vina Decana from Aldi, one of them looked at me and asked, “But it only costs $5. How can it be any good?”

Fortunately, I am resilient in the face of adversity (as well as very stubborn). We went to Aldi, bought the wine, tasted it, and all was well. This experience reminded me, despite all of the progress we have made with cheap wine over the past decade, how much wine business foolishness we still have to overcome.

Yes, many of us have spent years proselytizing for cheap wine, and the improvement in cheap wine quality has been well documented. But we’re bucking a 50-year-old system that told wine drinkers that cheap wine wasn’t worth drinking, and that very cheap wine was even less worthy of their attention. This has been the point of wine education since the first wine boom in the 1970s, that price equalled quality. It was only sometimes true then, and it’s even less true today. Which is why it’s more important than ever to taste the wine before you judge it, no matter how difficult that may be.

Hence the idea of $4 or $5 wine, despite the success of Two-buck Chuck, is still something pink and sweet that comes in a box and is bought by old ladies with cats. That this isn’t especially accurate any more doesn’t seem to matter in the rush to upsell consumers to $15 and $20 wine that doesn’t necessarily taste any different, but is more hip and with it. Chloe, anyone?

Also, the continued need for people like me, as much as there shouldn’t be. Fortunately, I enjoy the work.

Image courtesy of Hagerstenguy via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license

 

 

No wonder figuring out wine prices is so confusing

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No wonder figuring out wine prices is so confusing

Or not, as the case may be.

On the one hand, a news story citing several legitimate sources predicts “bad news for wine-drinkers, as California wine production is likely to go way down this year, and therefore already steep prices are going to rise.” On the other, a news story,  citing a legitimate source, predicts an oversupply of European and especially Spanish grapes, with the resultant pressure on pricing. No wonder figuring out wine prices is so confusing.

How can both be possible? Three reasons:

Parochial journalism, and especially in the first report. If most of the Winestream Media has difficulty understanding the economics of the wine business, imagine how difficult it is for non-wine writers, who don’t know the wine business or economics. One of the most important lessons for any journalist is that what happens elsewhere can affect you, even if that doesn’t seem intuitive. Because, given the law of supply and demand, cheap wine imports will mitigate higher domestic prices almost every time.

Conventional wisdom. This is lazy journalism, in which a story is passed around as truth so often that it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. That’s how we ended up with the harbinger of doom story in 2012, epitomized by the infamous Time magazine headline, “Panic! Wine Prices Due to Rise.” Which never happened. Conventional wisdom, given that Internet journalism relies on links to other stories, which have relied on links to other stories, is particularly annoying in wine these days.

• The post-modern wine world, also known as the internationalization of wine, and where none of the old rules apply. Once upon a time, it was possible to predict wine prices despite parochialism and conventional wisdom. But that changed about 15 years ago; unfortunately, not enough people who write about wine prices understand what happened.

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