The price of wine has gone up. Now there’s a surprise! Over time, the price of most things tends to rise and wine is, perhaps, more sensitive in this regard than many products. It depends greatly on the weather: not enough sun or too much rain at the wrong time means a poor harvest and prices go up. But, more than that, governments everywhere see alcohol as an easy target when they need to increase the tax take. So, the price of wine is doubly certain to rise. But by how much?
Recently, I was preparing a course I will be running and, ever eager to save myself work, I looked back at the last time I ran a similar programme. There, among the notes, was, not just a list of wines I had used, but also the prices I had paid for them in 2010. I couldn’t resist making a comparison with prices today. Not all the wines were still available, but many were and I quite easily found like-for-like replacements for those that were missing.
Just 3 of the 30 wines hadn’t risen in price at all, but, at the other end of the scale, 7 had gone up by more than a quarter, including one (a Californian Zinfandel) by more than 40%. The average rise was 15%, well above the rate of inflation here over the same period.
So what looks good value now compared to 4 years ago? I might have guessed that, as these were mainly low- to medium-priced supermarket wines, fashion might have had an effect on price. This was partly true – a couple of Pinot Grigios had risen steeply, a clear sign of the continuing popularity of that grape – but generally it was much less predictable. One New World Chardonnay was up 10%, another more than 30%. The price of an everyday Chianti hadn’t risen at all, whereas a similar quality Rioja was up by a third. So, no real pattern; my only tip would be to look for wines you like that seem good value to you.
Finally, back to that wine course I’m planning. It (and several others) will be at Bristol’s Stoke Lodge centre. Brochures giving full details are available now in local libraries or on line at http://www.bristolcourses.com. You can book on the website, too. And, for those of you on Facebook, I’ll put more information on facebook.com/winetalksandtastings in the coming weeks.