The news, as reported by Nielsen, is that 2010 has been a better year for wine sales than 2009. Which is good news, though one must take into account that 2009 wasn't exactly robust.
But wine prices have not, apparently, followed suit. Though there has been a bit of a recovery in the sale of wine that costs $15 and more, most of us are still looking for wine that costs $4 to $15. The link goes to figures from IRI, which tracks retail wine sales, and its survey for the two-week July 4 period over the past three years. Obviously, one can't read too much into data from such a small sample, but what's interesting is that it shows solid growth for cheap wine during a very ordinary part of the year. The people buying wine in June and July are regular wine consumers, and not people who buy wine just for the holidays, when they may be willing to pay more.
In other words, wine sales may be up, but consumers look like they're not trading back up. We switched to less expensive wine during the recession, and we're staying there. So $10 wine may still be the new $100 wine. Which ties into anecdotal evidence from wine people I've talked to and prices I've seen over the past couple of weeks. Producers are acknowledging this new reality, and prices are dropping. It's especially impressive that they're dropping in Dallas, where retailers tend to charge more:
• A blog visitor emailed me that Whole Foods in Dallas is selling 1-liter bottles of red and white blends from Argentina's Familia Zuccardi, which does excellent cheap wine, for $8 a bottle.
• My local Kroger is selling Rodney Strong sauvignon blanc, which is not overpriced at its normal $15, for $10. This is an amazing value. And I had a Fred Sanford moment when I saw Geyser Peak's reserve meritage, a $50 wine, in a Kroger. That's not supposed to happen.