Articles Tagged wine prices
I am aware that it’s been a long, oh, I don’t know, five whole minutes since I last talked about a Fix.com article, but the fine folks over at that website have seen fit to publish yet another of my modest attempts at edu-taining the wine soaked masses yearning to be… well… edu-tained.
And so, because I’ve nothing more pressing to do (this nanosecond, anyway), I point you to my Fix.com take on wine prices (why they are what they are, and roughly what to expect with each increasing price band), titled Behind the Tag: The Scoop on Wine Prices. Once again, Fix.com’s images make my words look good.
In the attempts penned to answer the question “why does a wine cost what it costs?” I’ve yet to find any version that cannot be boiled down to the following answer: “because that’s what they think you’ll pay!” Of course, that’s not long enough for a standard article, but the devil’s in those pesky details. And the details are particularly, interestingly, peskily devilish. Like a black hole, a wine’s price incorporates a whole lot of data that isn’t necessarily visible (at least, not at first).
Also interesting, I think, is that the subjectivity of a wine’s upper price point (after normal economies of scale are taken into account) is the entire reason why wine critics have any power whatsoever (think about it…). We often talk about the diffusion of wine criticism, and the dwindling power of traditional wine coverage, but rarely do we make the mental leap to connect that decrease in critics’ power to the increase in wine quality at all price points (itself most probably a result of the earlier efforts of critics calling wines on the carpet… but now we’re well into black-hole-event-horizon-crazy recursive-ness, Interstellar style, so let’s just shut up about it now). Better quality products naturally require less direct critical assessment of their quality, after all.
Anyway… the full Fix.com infographic take on wine prices is embedded below after the jump. Enjoy!
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First, let me say that I normally love NPR. In fact, I consider not having an opportunity to listen to NPR news during the morning commute as the thing that I miss the most about having a traditional 9-to-5 job. But when NPR runs a story titled “Fancy Names Can Fool Wine Geeks Into Paying More For A Bottle,” I cringe.
NPR’s story quotes Christopher Tracy, Channing Daughters Winery’s talented winemaker (for more on Tracy and his wines, check out the coverage of my 2009 trip to LI wine country), but only as a setup for introducing “difficult for Americans to pronounce” grape varieties like Blaufrankisch, and en route to covering the results of a marketing study performed earlier this year by Antonia Mantonakis, a wine researcher at Brock University in Ontario. As reported by NPR:
"Participants not only reported liking the taste of the wine better if it was associated with a difficult to pronounce winery name. But they also reported about a $2 increase in willingness to pay," Mantonakis says.
What’s more, apparently the more that test subjects knew about wine (or at least told Mantonakis they knew about it), “the more easily they got duped into thinking difficult wine names equaled pricier wines.” In other words, we expect Fat Bastard to be inexpensive, but not Le Bastard Surpoids.
I love NPR, but I hate this kind of reporting. I hate it because while there might indeed be meat on the bones in Mantonakis’s study for marketers to explore, the media angle instead is to jump on the all-wine-pros-are-douchebags bandwagon, and throw on non-pro wine geeks as well.
So you know what? Screw NPR for doing that. Screw them, because we wine geeks are not the problem; if a few of us thought fancy names equated to higher prices, than so what? Shouldn’t we be excited that the wines were actually less expensive than we thought? We need more people being excited about wine and getting all hot-and-bothered over those fancy names, not less. The media implication in NPR’s coverage that those wines are somehow bad or cheap and therefore shouldn’t be on the radar of wine geeks is itself insulting to the producers, regions, and wines involved (let alone to the people). And I won’t even get started on the “what constitutes ‘wine geek’ from this study?” arguments.
If you think I’m over-reacting, I invite you to watch coverage of Mantonakis’ experiment and then listen to the NPR coverage that followed, both embedded below after the jump, and then tell me if you think I got it wrong. In the meantime, I’ll go back to my temporary NPR boycott…
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In its December 2009 issue, the fine wine industry mag Sommelier Journal decided to take an interesting and unique angle on the ‘year end wine recap.’
Instead of compiling a year-end best-of list, Editor David Vogels asked a hand-selected group (consisting primarily of wine directors, sommeliers and other wine pros) to contribute what they thought to be the most memorable wine they’d tasted in 2009. The only restrictions: the wine had to be available in the U.S., and the contributor shouldn’t be commercially representing the wine in any way.
It’s a novel and very entertaining way to recap another year in vino. The result is presented in the December issue as a 40 selection wine list (along with tasting notes), divvied into Sparkling, White, Rose, Red, and Dessert categories.
The prices of the chosen wines tells us some interesting things about how wine pros view the wine world. The average price of a wine on that list?
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What wine would you buy right now if you had $500 to spend on it?
I mean, let’s say you were given $500 cash, right now, and told the only condition upon receiving it was that you had to spend that money on wine, and you had to buy it right now.
What would you buy?
I’ve been thinking about this question for days and days, and it’s made me curious as to how the intelligent, witty, and better-than-average-looking 1WineDude.com readership would answer it.
Do you blow the whole wad on one wine, like a very-good-but-not-great vintage of Chateau Petrus, just to say t hat you did it at least once? Or go for two bottles of a classified Right Bank Bordeaux? How about dabbling in a little high-end Burgundy? Or take a dessert wine tour of the world, through Porto, Madeira, Hungary, Sauternes, Niagara, Jerez…? Or a bargain-end binge shopping spree, stocking up on fairly-priced wines
It’s a compelling proposition, isn’t it?
Here’s the part that will start to bake your noodle:
Once you’ve decided on an answer… ask yourself Why haven’t I bought myself that wine already? Is it because $500 isn’t exactly small change in today’s crappy economy? Catholic guilt preventing you from spending that kind of money on yourself?
I think reading each others’ responses to these questions would be fascinating.
I’ll kick things off – I’d blow the whole wad on one wine, the kind of cultish wine like Petrus that is supposed to blow your mind, just to see if it can really live up to the stratospheric hype factor.
How about YOU?