Wines Then and Now: Part 1

Part 1 of 3: where wine prices are now and how to shop savvy

 


I’ve been writing a fair amount of commentary lately, some of it dealing with wine prices, but only tangentially; so today I wanted to take a look at where fine wine prices are going, and perhaps identify some smart plays for the savvy wine shopper.

I’m dealing with some relatively expensive wines here, most in the $50 and up range, so while I understand the limited appeal of an article such as this, I still think it’s worth the effort. As we’ll most likely see, rises in wines at the higher end of the spectrum usually foretell price increases working their way down the pricing ladder, eventually affecting all fine wines regardless of price.

What I set out to do here started, as some other articles of late, as a melancholy look back at wines that I can no longer afford. It’s almost funny; when I worked through all these details I discovered that being no longer able to afford some of these wines had as much to do with mindset as it did with the actual prices of the wines in question, though pricing is a better place to start this discussion.

Wine Store image via Shutterstock
Numbers don’t lie, and they are easy to understand, so let's begin by taking a look at the value of money. I’m going to be going back in time to about a decade to begin this exercise, though with Burgundy the time frame will be only five years. In any event, $100 of 2002 dollars would be worth about $128 in today’s money. So if the current release of a wine that cost $100 in 2002 is priced under $128 a bottle today, they are equivalent amounts of money. Conversely, $100 of today’s dollars would have be worth $78.50 in 2002. It seems as though I must have felt wealthier back then, though assuredly I wasn’t.


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Comments

  • Snooth User: RUS
    119003 266

    95% of wine drinkers don't drink at $50+ bottle of wine from one year to the next.

    Jan 19, 2013 at 6:34 PM


  • Snooth User: jaybird75
    100123 100

    Right. The current "bargain" prices at $75-$90 are out of my range.
    SIde note - Since my first experience with it, i've always considered Barbaresco more comparable to Burgundy than Barolo.

    Jan 20, 2013 at 5:54 PM


  • Snooth User: Ken Arkell
    113629 15

    While not a purchaser of $100 wines as a general rule, I think GDP's analysis is sound. Whatever the reason for the steep rise in prices in $100+ wine from Barolo country, the rise in price will pull up less expensive wines at each price point. Interesting that if a wine I would have purchased for $10 would move to $15 in one year, I would still buy it if I liked it, but a wine that moved from $100 to $150 over TEN years would price it way outside of my comfort level. Both wines would increase by the same percentage, but for me the key is the ceiling (which shifts depending on whether its a Tuesday night wine or a once a year great occasion wine) and not as much the movement within that $100 ceiling. Thanks for this article it made me think about what I want out of a wine today. At this point, my interest in $100 wines is not nearly as important as finding interesting wines that reflect the people and place where they are made. My hope is to continue to find these wines at considerably less than the $100 or more price point. My goal is to sip and imagine this vineyard, this winemaker, this village.

    Jan 21, 2013 at 11:27 AM


  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    I don't buy $100 wines. I buy from $8 on a lark, to $50-70. I have noted the wines in the $20 and up levels are trying to jump up in price in the last year or so. I look at 2007s and 2008s I bought a few years ago and compare them to pricing for 2009s and 2010, and see definite price creep. Part of it is smaller harvests here in CA, but I think producers are trying to increase their profit margins. Which of course is their right under capitalism, but it is also our right to look for alternatives.

    Jan 23, 2013 at 5:46 PM


  • Snooth User: Ken Arkell
    113629 15

    In British Columbia, due to government taxes, we have the 2nd highest tax system for wine known to man. Combine that with a world economy that ground to a halt in the last four years, you would expect that wine makers would be pricing their wines to match the times. Unfortunately my perception is that your experience with price creep has only slowed and not stopped in BC. So finding wines that are approachable in price and have been created for cellaring has become almost a fantasy. There is a romance of cellaring that seems to have gone from the wine experience unless one has a wine budget that is available to "everyman" only as a fantasy. However, it is interesting to search out wines from other parts of the world to enjoy at reasonable cost. It is even more interesting to to experience these wines where they were created.

    Jan 25, 2013 at 12:13 PM


  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    Ken, as a practical matter what is to stop a BC resident from driving over to the nearest Costco in Washington and buying a few cases of wine and bringing it back as part of their next camping trip in Washington? Not saying it is legal to do so.

    Jan 25, 2013 at 12:34 PM


  • Excellent...!!

    Aug 03, 2013 at 12:01 AM


  • Thats incredibly good...

    Aug 03, 2013 at 1:32 AM


  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    Ken, even cheap wines benefit from cellaring -- almost any cab should wait at least 4 years from harvest... a good example is Martini Sonoma cab, $11 at Costco, or Coppola Rosso - often on sale for $8.

    Aug 03, 2013 at 4:29 AM


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    Aug 05, 2013 at 4:51 AM


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    Aug 12, 2013 at 1:44 AM


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    1331306 37

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    Aug 13, 2013 at 4:52 AM


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  • Snooth User: gunsblack
    1341059 34

    Fantastic...!!

    Sep 11, 2013 at 12:34 AM


  • Pricing in SA is a lot different from yours however the fluctuation of prices, weather rand or dollar etc doesn't change.

    Sep 12, 2013 at 9:20 AM


  • Excellent

    Sep 13, 2013 at 10:24 AM


  • Some of the best wines I have tasted before happens to been some of the more inexpensive ones, you don't necessarily have to break the bank for an excellent glass of wine, you just have to look for it first.

    Sep 17, 2013 at 2:27 AM


  • Even cheap wines benefit from cellaring, in many cases it actually betters the wine in my opinion tasting more like a "expensive" wine rather than a cheap one.

    Sep 18, 2013 at 3:38 AM


  • Fabulous article, very informative.

    Sep 19, 2013 at 3:02 AM


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    Sep 20, 2013 at 1:15 AM


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    1368891 18

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    Sep 20, 2013 at 3:45 AM


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    1370044 33

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    1369283 31

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    1379445 33

    Its cool :)

    Oct 07, 2013 at 12:03 AM


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    Oct 09, 2013 at 10:45 PM


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    1380622 37

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    1409982 34

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    1410141 35

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    1422725 26

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    Dec 11, 2013 at 4:35 AM



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    1426660 33

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    1454655 32

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    1456192 32

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    1460203 33

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    1461497 33

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    Feb 04, 2014 at 12:05 AM


  • Even cheap wines benefit from cellaring, in many cases it actually betters the wine in my opinion tasting more like a "expensive" wine rather than a cheap one.

    Feb 04, 2014 at 12:50 AM



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    1471719 32

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    1474329 33

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    1475372 33

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    1475796 33

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    Mar 07, 2014 at 4:49 AM


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    1476154 33

    Even cheap wines benefit from cellaring, in many cases it actually betters the wine in my opinion tasting more like a "expensive" wine rather than a cheap one.

    Mar 08, 2014 at 1:17 AM


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    1476950 33

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    Mar 09, 2014 at 11:55 PM


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    1484172 33

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    1487285 34


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    1487781 34

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    1488585 33


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    1488598 33

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    1488586 33

    Even cheap wines benefit from cellaring, in many cases it actually betters the wine in my opinion tasting more like a "expensive" wine rather than a cheap one.

    Apr 07, 2014 at 2:26 AM


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    1489014 34

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    1493754 32

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    1493740 33

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    1494537 34

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    1496873 33

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    1496881 32

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    Apr 29, 2014 at 2:56 AM


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    Apr 29, 2014 at 4:28 AM


  • Snooth User: furiousloo
    1498002 33

    Even cheap wines benefit from cellaring, in many cases it actually betters the wine in my opinion tasting more like a "expensive" wine rather than a cheap one.

    May 01, 2014 at 11:06 PM


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    May 19, 2014 at 6:51 AM


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    1506225 31

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    1510117 33

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    1511418 30

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  • Snooth User: hoopssnow
    1511940 50

    Even cheap wines benefit from cellaring, in many cases it actually betters the wine in my opinion tasting more like a "expensive" wine rather than a cheap one.

    Jun 12, 2014 at 1:40 AM


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    1511972 32

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    Jun 12, 2014 at 2:02 AM



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    Jun 13, 2014 at 12:22 AM


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    1512506 63


    Its magnificent :)

    Jun 15, 2014 at 11:12 PM


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