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$15 wine: the new normal

on 13/04/11 at 11:05 pm


The sales ‘sweet spot’ for a bottle of wine has come down from $40 in 2009 to $15 or $20 today. Bargains are plentiful in wines from Spain, Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Italy. California winemakers are also delivering, and Syrah can be an especially good value.

There are signs the American economy is improving, at least as far as wine shops are concerned. But if you think that means a return to the glory days of $150 cult Cabernets … well, not so fast.

Instead, most wine store owners, far from declaring business as back to normal, are describing a new normal, one in which the high-margin sales of wines in the $50 to $150 range are difficult — indeed, some would say they’re almost a thing of the past.

To an overwhelming degree, retail customers are spending less for a bottle of wine than they did two years ago. In 2009, we wrote in these pages that, in terms of a sales sweet spot, $25 was the new $40. If anything, that median is trending further downward in 2011. For many, $15 to $20 might be the new $25.

For consumers, this is all very good news. The new focus on wines in that range has resulted in a kind of renaissance in the category, with more — and better — bottlings available than ever before. “We’ve always prided ourselves at finding great affordable wines,” says Jim Knight with the Wine House in West Los Angeles. “But now they’re more abundant, and they’re much better than they were from even a few years ago.”

{Full story via LA Times}

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