Tag Archives: wine prices

Winebits 300: Wine prices, Texas wine, Google

? Pricing pressure ? in the other direction: Just in time for the Cheap Wine Book (and the shameless plugs will eventually stop) comes this blog post from banker Rob McMillan. ?Attempting to increase bottle pricing –even in an allocated environment — has been like pushing a wet string up the hill. ? Wine prices have been mostly flat since June 2012, well behind the rate of inflation. Throw in the 2012 California grape harvest, which was a record, and what looks to be an equally as large 2013 harvest, and we'll be drinking cheap wine for the foreseeable future. ?Consumers haven't been willing to pay more for wine and based on the recovery sluggishness, I can't see them willing to pay more going into the holidays or even 2014 at this point, ? says McMillan.

? Impressive hire: One of the obstacles facing regional wine has been the inability to hire the best qualified people, who have traditionally preferred to work elsewhere. That has been changing, and one example came this month Texas Tech hired a a Cal State-Fresno graduate. Maureen Qualia, whose family owns Texas ? Val Verde Winery, spent the past five years working in California before taking a job in the Hill Country to work with winemakers, do extension work, and teach classes. Fresno has one of the top three or four winemaking programs in the world.

? Google ?s affect on the wine business: The Wine Curmudgeon, watching his visitor stats this year, saw a marked drop this spring when Google changed its search algorithm. But I ?m not the only one who has suffered. Changes to Gmail, used by as many as three-quarters of a billion people, are sending wine retailer emails into spam, even though they may be legitimate. One of the untold stories of the post-modern world is Google ?s influence on the non-technology part of our lives because of its tremendous power in shaping the Internet. Who would think the search giant could change how wine drinkers buy product or find wine reviews?

Retailers and wine prices

Wine-Searcher.com has great news for wine drinkers: ?Increased transparency of wine prices worldwide means retailers are no longer able to charge excessive prices. ?

So how does that jibe with what I saw yesterday ? a national retailer charging $17 for a South African red blend that included pinotage? Wine prices don ?t get much more excessive than that.

The Wine Curmudgeon will sort this all out after the jump:

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Winebits 299: Cheap wine, wine prices, wine temperature

? It ?s OK to drink cheap wine: Not shocking news, I know, but it always makes the Wine Curmudgeon smile when others realize it. The latest affirmation comes from the International Business Times. The piece rambles quite a bit, touching on classical music and science of snobbery, but the point is well made: ?When we judge the quality of wine, it ?s hard not to imagine that the more expensive something is, the better it must be. But if the price labels are covered, expense doesn ?t translate into quality, it turns out. ?

? Wine prices and quality: Jancis Robinson, one of the two or three most important wine critics in the world, has a warning for those who buy wine: ?In inexperienced markets there is wide and misplaced belief in a correlation between price and quality. ? Who knew she and I would have so much in common? The article deals mostly with over-priced wine made for emerging wine markets like China, but the point is consistent with all over-priced wine. Just because something is expensive doesn ?t mean it ?s worth what it costs.

? The best temperature for wine: This is a common question whenever I talk to consumers, and my pal Dave McIntyre offers a terrific primer in the Washington Post. Too cold white wine, writes Dave, deadens the wine ?s fruit flavors, while too warm reds taste flabby. And even those of us who do this for a living have to fight this problem, he notes, describing his own experience with a white that was too cold.

Winebits 296: Pricing, Australian wine, expensive wine

? The old days are gone: If there was any doubt that consumers, post-recession, care about price above all, pay attention to this report from Forbes, discussing much improved sales at clothing retailer the Gap: The company said ?its brands have been driving month after month of sales growth due in part to an e-mail marketing strategy that rests largely on discounting everything from basic pieces to trendy items such as colored jeans. The strategy resounds with the 75 percent of women who said in a WSL/Strategic Retail survey that it's important to get the lowest price on everything they buy. ? The Gap ?s customers are probably a touch younger than the typical female wine consumer (who drives retail wine sales), but the lesson is there for anyone to see who wants to see it. Though, of course, the wine business won ?t.

? The plight of Australian wine: W. Blake Gray addresses the critical conundrum that is Australian wine: ?Australia is the second-largest exporter of wine to the US, behind only Italy. We buy more Australian wine than wine from France and Spain combined.So why don't you read much about Australian wine It ?s a deft piece of media criticism, and speaks to the one-size-fits-all approach of the Winestream Media, in which price and glamour matters above all else. And Gray is correct ? Aussie riesling, when you can find it, is amazing.

? Pity the rich: Apparently, some of New York ?s elite are hocking their best wines to raise cash, as much as $100,000. This appeals to the Wine Curmudgeon on so many levels that I could probably get an entire blog post out of it, but who wants to be that snarky, reveling in the wealthy ?s misery? How desperate are these people? They ?re not only pawning some of the best wine in the world (and which most of us will never taste), but paying 2 1/2 to 4 percent interest a month for the privilege Those are practically break your legs if you don ?t pay the vig rates.

Ask the WC 3: Availability, prices, headaches

Because the customers always write, and the Wine Curmudgeon has answers every month or so. Ask a wine-related question by clicking here.

I just returned to the U.S. from a three-year stint in the UK where cheap Bordeaux is a plenty at Sainsbury or Tesco. Before we left, we spent a week in Sicily and I stumbled into the Cusumano wines. Amazing stuff. What is the best way to purchase in the U.S.? We now live in Tennessee where you have to go to a package store to buy wine! Insane. Please advise.
Baffled by the three-tier system

Dear Baffled:
You aren ?t the only one. I get more availability questions than anything else; hence this post and this one, which should answer all your questions. Basically, first ask your retailer, and if that doesn ?t work, start Googling. You ?re spot on with the Cusumano, by the way. Love those wines. And I ?m jealous about the Bordeaux.


Dear Wine Guy:
You write a lot about how Americans buy cheap wine, but that no one pays enough attention. But maybe there ?s something you ?re missing. Do we buy cheap wine everywhere that sells wine, or only at certain places? Like do fine wine shops sell more expensive wine?
Wondering about prices

Dear Prices:
That ?s one of the best questions I ?ve ever received, and I don ?t know there ?s an exact answer. I consulted a bunch of really smart wine people, and we came up with these proportions, but there ?s no guarantee to their accuracy: About two-thirds of the wine sold at a mass market retailer like Walmart costs $12 or less and 80 to 90 percent of the wine sold at a grocery store costs $12 or less. At a fine wine shop, the numbers for a mass market retailer are likely reversed, so two-thirds of the wine sold there costs $12 or more.


Hey Wine Curmudgeon:
I have a friend who says she can drink beer OK, but wine, white or red, gives her migraine headaches ? and fast. Any clue as to what is the culprit?
My head hurts

Dear Head:
I have written about headaches, perhaps the great urban myth of wine. About one percent of the U.S. population is allergic to sulfites, which can cause the headaches. The rest of it, says one of the leading researchers in the field, is auto-suggestion. So there is a chance it is sulfites, though a small one ? and one she can test with dried apricots, which have 10 times the sulfites of wine. The other culprit might be histamines, common in wine and which can cause allergic reactions. But beer has histamines, too. So this is where I say I ?m not a doctor, and suggest asking one.

Winebits 294: Wine supply edition

Winebits 294: Wine supply editionAre there enough grapes to meet the world demand for wine? Watching the world wrestle with this question has turned into fine spectator sport, and these items demonstrate why:

? Pump and dump: This year has seen several reports from banks and consultancies forecasting a dwindling supply of grapes with the implication that wine prices will rise substantially. Lew Perdue at Wine Industry Insight has seen this sort of thing many times, and questions the most recent report: ?The issue is far more complex and requires far more analysis and thought than this shrill, naive and simplistic article presents. ? He goes on to write that reports of impending grape shortages are sometimes used to scare growers into overplanting, and that the people doing the scaring make money out of the result. Hence, pumping and dumping.

? How many French grapes? The Winestream Media has diligently reported what looks to be horrid 2013 harvests in Bordeaux and Burgundy, thanks to very bad weather. That ?s because those are the regions they ?re most concerned with — expensive wine and all that. But in the rest of France, and for the country as a whole, the opposite is true: a harvest exceptionnelle, up 11 percent this year. That increase, compared with a weaker euro against the dollar, should be more than enough to keep prices in line.

? How about those Aussies? Lots and lots of grapes ? so many, in fact, that Big Six producer Treasury Wine Estate is dumping wine that it can ?t sell in the U.S. Nothing illustrates the effect that too much supply has on prices than Yalumba, one of the Wine Curmudgeon ?s favorites. The company dropped its list price from $12 to $10 in the U.S. on its Y series, boosting sales 300 percent in the process. Americans buy wine on price ? and if it ?s quality wine like Yalumba, they ?ll buy more of it.

Why more Americans don’t drink wine, chapter III

The Wine Curmudgeon had dinner the other night at his favorite Dallas Tex-Mex restaurant, where wine is more of a concept than anything else. Over the years, it has carried some decent bottles, but its wine selection is usually a dumping ground for distributor-driven, overpriced and less than well-made South American imports that cost $8 a glass.

So, not all that different from the rest of the U.S. restaurant business. As this person has noted. And this person. And even me, once or twice. And restaurant wine sales have suffered for it.

All of which is annoying enough. But what struck me, and the reason for this post, is that this restaurant had no trouble pricing — or selling — the dozen or so margaritas listed on the table card. The most expensive was $10, and most were $8. In other words, a customer could order a crappy glass of wine or a very ordinary margarita for the same price. Is it any wonder that this restaurant sells — that most Mexican-style restaurants — three to four times more margaritas than wine?

The restaurant respects booze drinkers; it doesn ?t respect wine drinkers. Even I opted for a couple of bottles of $4 beer. And if someone like me, who doesn ?t see anything wrong with sparkling wine for breakfast, doesn ?t want to drink this restaurant ?s wine, what ?s an ordinary consumer going to do?

And, for those of you who want to make this a pairing issue, be forewarned — first, because a rose would work; second, because most consumers could care less about pairings, especially at a popularly-priced restaurant; and third, because it’s not like a margarita pairs with anything, either.

It’s restaurant arrogance or indifference or both. And wine drinkers are worse off for it.