Yes, I know – one of those dog bites man headlines. But sometimes, in the wine business, not everyone gets the obvious.
Hence the headline, from this story: “"The consumer has definitely changed buying habits," says a buyer for a major American liquor chain. "They are buying wines, which is good for us, but they are being more careful. People don't need another $50 cabernet. What they need is a really good wine at $10."
Note to major American liquor chain: Look here. Sigh. How long has the Wine Curmudgeon been saying this? When can I get quoted as an expert?
So why is this news? Or why do some people in the wine business think it’s news? Because the wine industry, over the past decade, has convinced itself that there are two kinds of wine drinkers –- the really hip ones, and the rest of us. They want to sell wine to the really hip ones, not only because they’ll pay more for it, but because they aren’t as fussy about what they drink. I’m convinced that if one of the Wine Magazines gave a 98 to a $150 bottle of warm iced tea, said it had dusty tannins, and noted that only 300 cases existed, the iced tea would sell out in 15 minutes.
Besides, who gets famous for making cheap wine? The only one I can think of is Fred Franzia, the man behind Two Buck Chuck, and a lot of people dislike him -- a lot.
In fact, most of the wine world is the rest of us. One of my favorite numbers is the average price of a bottle of wine sold in the U.S.: a whopping $6 or so, according to the annual Nielsen alcoholic beverage survey. We want a quality product at a fair price, and we want to be able to drink it without having to learn a foreign language. This does not sound like we’re asking too much, but then a story like the one noted above shows up.
So keep drinking your $10 wine. Keep demanding value for your money. And who knows? Maybe the wine business will eventually figure this out.