The Wine Curmudgeon has spent quite a bit of the past couple of weekends shopping for wine. I can’t guarantee that what I saw in Dallas is the same thing that you’ll see where you live, but I did see what look like to be emerging trends nationwide:
• Smaller wine departments, especially in stores like Cost Plus World Market that expanded their wine departments during the boom and now are stuck with too much floor space for a product that isn’t selling. My local Cost Plus looks like it has reduced its wine inventory by 20 percent.
• More house labels and private labels. I visited eight or 10 stores, and the thing that struck me in all of them were lots of labels I had never seen before. These are wines that the retailers carry exclusively, which means they carry higher margins than national brands and usually sell for a little less than similar national brands.
• The beginning of deep discounting, as opposed to the ordinary discounting that has been going on for most of this year. I bought six bottles of quality wine at Kroger, including one that usually costs around $15, for $39.95. Which works out to $6.66 a bottle, and a Rex Goliath chardonnay was just $4. Kroger had not only marked the wines down, but was offering 20 percent off any six bottles. This is exceptionally notable in Dallas since our wine prices tend to be a bit higher than elsewhere.
• Lots of back vintages, especially for well-known national brands. There were 2006 and 2007 white wines and 2004 and 2005 reds for sale, vintages that should have sold out at least a year ago. Retailers will need to increase discounts to get rid of these back vintages to make room for the new vintages on store shelves, since the alternative is throwing them out.
The photo is from Wong Mei Teng of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, via stock.xchng, using a Creative Commons license.