Now is the winter of our discontent. Hang on a minute. I think that was done before. Anyway, it’s winter right now, and it looks like higher wine prices are on the horizon. Wine bargains could be fewer and farther between pretty soon. That’s enough to stir anyone’s discontent.
Higher Wine Prices Are Inevitable Right Now
Back several months ago, when Gary Vaynerchuk was still doing his “Daily Grape” internet show, he said to look out for higher prices within a year or two. In conversations with wholesale wine reps, I have been getting the same story. Now comes Wine Spectator with confirmation. In the January-February 2012 issue there is an article called The Year In Wine – 2011 In Review. A subhead of one section is Gather Ye Bargains While Ye May. Hardly cheerful news for wine consumers, but it worth reading. But we have to remember that wine bargain hunters have had it good in recent years. The continuing recession has not caused wine sales to actually decrease, but they have been lower than many “experts” planned for. Therefore there was an excess of wine in just about every stage of its existence. So it was available at a lower price. Basic supply and demand, right? Well the excess is drying up. Or has dried up, depending on who you listen to.
There are other factors at work that will affect price. One is the wine itself. In the United States, 2010 was an uneven vintage in much of the west coast. Maybe not as bad as originally thought, but yields were down in many areas. So regardless of how good the wine is, it looks like there will be less of it from the U.S. in 2010. In 2011 some areas in California will be worse than 2010. The entire growing and harvesting seasons were cooler than normal in California and Washington. 2011 is reportedly a lousy year for Napa Cabernet, which should lower demand, and therefore price. But if the wine is not so good, will anyone buy it?
What To Do About Higher Wine Prices
What’s a wine bargain lover to do? In the same issue of Wine Spectator, columnist James Laube encourages people to re-assess their buying patterns and habits. He recommends you taste blind, so you are drinking wine, not labels. I have encouraged the very same thing in posts on this blog. Anyone who writes about wine wants people to expand their palates. Try different things; or at least the same grape from a different area. I agree with Laube when he says that if you taste blind, you’ll be surprised how many $12 wines will stand up to more expensive wines.
This has been the whole focus of AvoidBadWine.com. Anybody can find good wine at $60 per bottle. Not all of us can afford that luxury. Most wine publications treat anything under $20 as a value wine. We set the price a little lower for a value wine. That $12 figure sounds about right. One of my favorites is the Columbia Crest H3 (Horse Heaven Hills = H3) Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State. Rich, excellent stuff. In big box stores I have seen it at less than $12. This is not the only good deal still out there. Don’t forget Southern France and Spain. Even though higher wine prices are coming, both areas are good sources of bargains, or as we like to say, Good Wine Cheap.