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Wine price inflation

Clearly the return of inflation is a wider topic than just wine, but it seems to me that there are likely to be pretty significant pricing pressures in the next year or so at least. I’m afraid I remain cynical about the official line that inflation is ‘transitory’ in general. It’s clear that inflation is likely to be one of the routes taken to diminish the real value of debt for start…however specifically in the case of wine we have:

  • lower yields across many leading wine regions in Europe and other parts of the world in 2021.
  • cost inflation from a number of sources, including fuel, labour and raw materials (everything from fertiliser, chemicals to glass and closures for bottles), transport costs
  • in the UK at least, Sunak’s stealth tax on most wine duty scheduled for 2023, and the additional import costs direct and indirect resulting from Brexit.

One minor mitigant at present at least has been the £ exchange rate (against Euro in particular) but this can’t be relied upon to be sustained.

How do you see wine prices in 2022/23? Do you think that the traditional price points in supermarkets will crumble? What about fine wine/EP?

I think that margins have already been squeezed for UK retailers, so limited scope to absorb further. I wouldn’t be surprised to see 10% plus increases; the alternative at the lower end is to cut quality even further I suspect but not sure how much more that can happen. Will £8 become the new £6 and £10 the new £8?

At the higher end, what is the price elasticity of demand for fine wine (I’m not talking DRC or Petrus here, where price seems not to matter, but the rungs below that). Will we see a switch in buying towards better ‘value’ regions?

What do you think will happen to prices over the next 2 years or so? Will it affect your buying and drinking habits? I think that even if prices don’t move much in real terms (i.e. wages grow just as fast), there are probably competing pressures on budgets from the likes of fuel and food costs, not to say the ‘money illusion’ and price point effects.

I had thought of doing a poll on people’s views on price changes and impact on their wine buying/drinking, but decided it was too reductive and too many nuances…however would be interested to hear views.

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It’s a bit late at night for a detailed response, but safe to say, with the current cabal in charge, who fetishize Singapore, expect everything to go up in price.

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Inflation all round, with possible exception of Australian wine, given Chinese tariffs on Australia, which may lead to more Australian wine heading to the UK.

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My guess…

Inflation in EP as growers look to mitigate the effects of the 2021 harvest. Higher end will remain inflated after that (even if 2022 is stellar), lower end may dip back a little if 2022 onwards is good due to competition from other regions.

Expect Barolo to increase as it’s increasingly recognised alongside Burgundy and adopts a similar model.

Suspect some producers will move to more EP as the increase in costs requires more cashflow - I wonder if Australian producers will be tempted?

Assuming the Aus-China relationship continues, expect more Australian wine moving this way. Particularly as HMG would like to highlight the benefits of their shiny trade deal (and bury stories about livestock farmers in the UK getting hammered).

On the supermarket front, they’ll want to keep the price points broadly similar - £6.50 the new £5, maybe. Expect some diversification into newer areas (Eastern Europe, maybe Greece?) as they try to find new producers who are tempted by selling into a large market.

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Last time I was there, your supermarket Beaujolais (AND the Oz equivalent) started at around the £30 mark; anything and everything imported was priced around double. The only things that were cheap: unskilled labour, street food & fruit.

Here I imagine wine will be an easy target for future creeping tax increases. I don’t imagine there is any way to avoid that, except by buying age-worthy wines right now and stocking up on member’s reserves ?

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I suppose that with some fine wine the UK has traditionally held good quantities in the country which may mitigate overall inflation for these, I was thinking of Bordeaux and port.

But the emerging fine wine areas seem to be falling over themselves to prove they are fine wine areas by doubling their prices every twenty minutes to prove they are fine wine areas. I am not sure this has much to do with costs.

I think at the bottom end prices will go up, by quite a chunk I would think, but I would imagine that the twelve to thirty pound bracket which is where a lot of TWS fine wine customers are probably have a bit more of a cushion and so may not rise so much.

I would also say that for me a lot of inflation has already happened without it having a noticeable effect on the headline figure. That is both wine and life in general.

I fully expect to see more of what I’ve been seeing of late. That is excessive inflation in the mid priced wines around £20-£50 and very low inflation in the lower priced ones. I’ve noticed that when I buy new releases of wines in the sub £20 range they are generally not much more than previous releases (whether new vintages or more of previous ones). Whereas to take a recent example TWS have just got in a new release of Château Grand Corbin Despagne, Saint-Emilion 2015 at £34. I bought this same vintage in 2018 (not EP) at £27 so that’s just over a 25% increase for the same vintage of the same wine. I’ve notice this happening a lot recently with new releases of the same or newer vintages at greatly increased prices. I’m not blaming TWS, it just seems to be the way the prices move. I don’t really follow the prices of the more expensive wines but I suspect they do the same as the mid range ones but on steroids.

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Perhaps the lower priced (and less specifically labelled) wines can find new sources, so the wine changes, not the price?

Some have dipped a toe in these waters before and retreated…

Sadly I tend to agree…use wine as currency basically, then drink it!

I would like to think so…but I fear it may be wishful thinking!

Don’t disagree, hence my comment if the price in real terms for the purchaser hasn’t moved much they may not notice too much…maybe I should have qualified my initial post by asking if people think that wine prices will rise by more than general inflation.

Quite a contrasting view from @Prufrock…though I accept the price ranges quoted by you both aren’t quite the same. @MikeFranklin why do you expect to see greater price pressure in this price range? BTW, my post was intended to be generic…not pointing the finger at TWS at all, if anything they have been more restrained in pricing than most.

Interestingly, I think that people will quote examples where they notice a significant increase, and ignore or overlook those that stay the same or don’t move much. It’s human nature. There was a discussion on this last year. However, when I did a wider comparison of about 20-30 wines, the average increase was <5%.

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I agree. Hence my comment about reducing quality (which may not always be the case but often is). More likely at the sub £6-7 pound range I think.

The ones I’m looking at are very specifically labelled. I’m not referring here to TWS own labels. There are plenty of lower well priced wines like the Pitray mentioned above that do not seem to hike their prices up every year. I suspect the reason is more that the people buying these wines are not prepared to pay for price rises much above current inflation rates, whereas those buying the higher priced wines are by their nature a little more flexible with how much they are prepared to pay.

And, it would seem, the producers are well aware of this!

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I don’t have any particular reason to expect this to happen just that it is what I have seen happening of late to this sort of price point. I’ve seen many such increases in Bordeaux and the rather more expensive Rhone areas like Cote Rotie (and probably Hermitage but I haven’t been buying them much until recently so haven’t noticed yet). Also many Chiantis in that price range seem to leap up in price whilst the lower priced ones seem to move more sensibly. I certainly haven’t made an exhaustive analysis it just seems that I keep finding wines I like in that price range that then rapidly move out of my budget whilst others below that £20 mark seem to move price only very slowly.

So the only way for individuals to secure future drinking of Ch.X, and still be able to afford lesser wines later on… is to speculate on the market: buy larger quantities of Ch.X now, and flog the spare for cash further down the line.

Which is exactly what is happening with Malt Whisky right now. You try buying Springbank ! pretty much only available on the 2nd market.

Regretfully I don’t have the inclination, knowledge or cash to play that game.

HOWEVER… our TWS are investing in Warehouse No.5 on our behalf, so that should cushion future hikes.

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Tulip fever, anyone?

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Which is a bit like the EP market for claret back in the 80s…buy 3 to be able to drink 1 ‘for free’…which, as with all ‘investments’ on margin, works well when the market only goes up…

Yes, and this is rather more like tulips I fear…

Temporary cushion only I fear…

I suspect that there is an element of all ‘scarce’ items - I use the word advisedly - being subject to price pressure upwards, as it is perceived that it is better to hold them that fiat currency…which has some justification in recent times, and is what is driving crypto frenzy.

However, all these have one thing in common, they are not productive assets, and do not produce a revenue stream…more accurately an income stream. Once prices take a downward turn (rate rises anyone?), and/or people have to deploy their spare cash elsewhere (tax rises anyone?) then it could all get a bit messy…

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I agree - I look forwards to the Great Claret Price Crash of 2024, and stocking my cellar with cut-price goodies.

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I’ve noticed two rather contradictory tendencies among comments on this forum, both of which must have a bearing on pricing.

Firstly, some members will not buy a wine if the price has increased from one year to the next - almost irrespective of whether that wine still represents reasonable value.

Secondly, there are certain wines (Gonon, Leistenberg, for example) that get talked up every year, which must encourage sellers to increase prices, and who can blame them?

I’d hesitate to make any predictions about where the market will go in the short or medium term. After all, the best economists have predicted seven of the last three recessions.

In the long run (ignoring the fact that we’re all dead) perhaps climate change will enable even more production from new regions (Cumberland Cabernet, Grampian Grenache?), to moderate price increases. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

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I have hoarded the wine list from the Royal Overseas Club in Edinburgh where I had my wedding reception in September 1993. I sourced my own wines and paid corkage to manage the cost of my wedding but thought these samples pulled from their list would show an interesting light on wine inflation. Workings below show original menu price and then the assumption there is a 100% mark up to then get a rough multiplier to equivalent today.

Cn9p Domaine de la Nerthe 1987/88 £14 (assumed retail £7) price for a 2016 now ( 6 years difference vintage to wedding date) £50 - 7 times higher now.
Chateau Gaury Balette 1998 £7.75 - £3.90 - 2015 from Davy website normal price £9.95 - just over 2.5 times.
Chateau Giscours 1982 £16.55 - £8.30 - 2009 from Vivino £120 just over 14 times.

The still wine I got and paid corkage for was Lindeman’s Bin 50 and Bin 65 as Australian wines were the in thing back then. I think these were about £3+ a bottle and nice at the time ( different wines and different tastes these days). These are less than double in 28 years as 3 years ago I took a trip down memory lane getting one of each for £5 each in Booths.

To be consistent though the wine menu had …

Rosemount Chardonnay 1989 £9.75 - £4.90 and on sale at Morrison’s now for £6.50 about 1/3 more expensive.

They also had a Liebfraumilch for £6.50 along with 3 other Germany wines just to show the fact we do evolve our tastes and where we get wine from.

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Prices have been accelerating rapidly for a few years now. I’ve lost count of the number of regions I simply never buy from anymore (Burgundy, N Rhone, Barolo…). Many others (Etna, Santorini, Jura, even Rioja…) fast going that way too. Can’t say I’m that bothered as I kinda prefer to live under the radar anyway :slight_smile:

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Yes, since June 2016 funnily enough…

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