If you hate or don’t drink wine at all this post will be of little interest. However, if you have been a regular consumer of wine you already know that these are the days of wine and roses for wine consumers. Consistent and good wine, sometimes very good wine, has never been less expensive. I’ve noticed this more since the aisles down which I travel in the wine stores are lower priced than when I was shopping ten years ago.
As I first thought maybe my tastes had changed, perhaps becoming either dulled or less sensitive. But I recently had a bottle of 1994 Opus One and it was AMAZING! There was no chance of mistaking that bottle for anything but a spectacular wine and nothing like the wine that I drink most every day – figuratively speaking of course.
There are plenty of reasons why this can be the case if you accept my premise. Probably the most important is overall category competition which would be closely aligned with the laws of supply and demand. There is a lot of supply and in the U.S. modest demand at best. Also keep in mind that the average cost of a bottle of wine in the U.S. is something less than $8.00. While $2 Buck Chuck (the Charles Krug wine of several years ago) is no longer $2, more wine is sold for under $5.00 per bottle than over $5.00 per bottle. Felix Salmon wrote an excellent blog last September on the size of the U.S. wine market – In the article Eric Asimov of the New York Times notes that ‘$20 is the sweet spot” but for the consumer I think that number is getting closer to $10.
I remember my father always telling me that nobody can tell you what tastes good to you. And if it’s only a $100 bottle of Caymus Cabernet then I hope you make a lot of money. If you’re like the rest of us the trick is always to find the best bang for the buck that can possibly be had.
One of things that make wine expensive is perceived exclusivity. I recall doing it myself where I would find and love a bottle of $25 or $30 wine which only had 300 cases and feel like I was in on a secret. A cool thing that I could share with my friends since it was difficult to obtain. It leads to the thinking that craft and small batch winemaking is the only way to make great wine. It’s obvious that if there were 100,000 cases of Opus One each year it would not sell for well over $100 bottle retail (not at the restaurant).
Modern winemaking techniques have made it easier than ever to produce a consistent and better quality bottle of wine be it white, red or rose. This doesn’t mean that there are not horrible and insipid (often both at the same time) wines being consumed every day. Sadly that is still the case and truly is a shame. With a little research and the right store you can test your way through good wines at far lower prices than ever before. And for me finding something I like to drink for less than $10 is both fun and a worthwhile endeavor.
I think it’s even a little bit cool – don’t you?