I've been digging around for the last couple of months, trying to get a sense of where wine prices are headed in 2011. My gut feeling is that we're in for at least another year of oversupply and lower prices, with lots and lots of previous vintages still clogging winery back rooms and distributor warehouses. The recession may have officially ended, but the wine business is far from recovering.
And that seems to fit with the anecdotal evidence I've seen -- news stories, talking to retailers and distributors, and walking around grocery and liquor stores and comparing prices. I saw Perrier Jouet, a $40 bottle of Champagne, going for $25 in an ordinary, national chain grocery store. Three years ago, the producer would have refused to allow its wine near the store, let alone be sold there or discounted.
The best description of where we're going? It came from a Dallas retailer whose family has been selling wine for about as long as it has been legal to sell wine in Dallas. "I call it consumer-friendly," he said. "Pricing will be beneficial to the consumer. There's still a lot of wine out there, and there are still a lot of deals to be found. I'm buying them whenever I can."
So, for at least another year, $10 is still the new normal.