Winebits 495: Imported wine prices, Justin Beiber wine, Big Wine brands

imported wine pricesThis week’s wine news: Why a strong dollar doesn’t cut imported wine prices as much as it should, plus a rant about too commercial wine and Big Wine’s fastest growing labels

Not so cheap: The strong dollar has finally cut the price of imported wine, but it took surprisingly long and import prices don’t seem to be as falling the way they should be. A working paper in the Journal of Wine Economics may explain why: Laura Werner of Germany’s FernUniversitat writes that as the dollar gets stronger, other pricing pressures and how the supply chain works may slow price cuts. For example, the price of wine already in the U.S. or on its way here won’t fall, so that means a delay in cheaper wine until it’s sold at the higher price. The paper is incredibly complicated for those of us who don’t speak math, but my interpreter, Suneal Chaudhary, explained it to me. In the end, he said, a 25 percent drop in the euro may only result in a 10 to 15 percent drop in retail prices here.

Take that, crappy wine: A top Italian wine type has lashed out at wines that are too commercial, saying that “Winemakers need to gain more confidence and feel more comfortable in doing their own thing and making authentic wines that are true to themselves. Oherwise, you end up with the wine equivalent of Britney Spears and Justin Bieber – commercially focused wines made to suit the market.” That’s not the WC ranting, but Italian winemaker and consultant Alberto Antonini speaking to thedrinksbusiness magazine website. “I don’t like to make wine for the market,” he told the magazine. “I like to go out and make wine that is true to a place and then find a market for it.” Antonini was also scathing about winemakers who make what he called boring and ineffective Bordeaux knockoffs, because they don’t know what else to do.

The big get bigger: We’ve written many times on the blog about how much of the market is controlled by Big Wine, and this chart from the Wine Industry Insight website reminds us of that once again. It lists the 10 fastest growing brands in the U.S. from 2015 to 2016 – five of which are owned by Big Wine, including the top four. How about 1,600 percent growth for Constellation’s Ravage, which seems to be something the WC would write long diatribes about, and 400 percent for E&J Gallo’s Vin Vault boxed wine?