The U.S. is the Sweet Spot for Wine Deals

By John ~ June 19th, 2009.

Wine Specials at a local wine shopMarchesi de’ Frescobaldi, the leading wine producer in the Tuscany region of Italy and one of the most historic and respected wine companies in the world, recently released research results of a study that showed Italian wine consumers are continuing to purchase high quality wine during the economic downturn. This study shows that the wine drinking habits of Italians differ greatly from American habits in the recession.

In May, results of similar research in the U.S. conducted by The Nielsen Group indicated that American consumers are much more likely to purchase less expensive and discounted alcoholic beverages on special offer during the downturn, and purchase the same amount they always have. The report shows that 50% of U.S. wine and spirits consumers have changed their shopping habits and are actively seeking out and shopping for deals, choosing quantity over quality. Speaking of his top-end wine, one respected U.S. winemaker who asked to remain anonymous told me:

“It’s crazy. We’re making the best wine we’ve ever made, and we can’t sell it.”

As a result, U.S. wineries are being forced to adapt to their customers’ newfound austerity by:

  1. Creative discounting through their wine clubs, quantity discounts, special discount days, and free shipping offers.
  2. Special emphasis on their cash cow table wine or developing a second label wine.
  3. Re-labeling their top tier wine and selling it other ways, such as private label restaurant wine, in order not to dilute the brand’s premium label’s image in the marketplace.

While some winemakers won’t even admit that sales have slowed for their premium wines, have you noticed how allocation lists have opened up and deals are being made? As another winemaker said, “We have two great vintages backed up in the barrel while we’re still trying to clear out the 2003’s at a discount.” As a wine consumer, this puts you in the driver’s seat to get on those hallowed lists you’ve craved for years and buy a few special bottles that you can put away for that very special occasion.

Another disconcerting finding in the Nielsen study for wineries:

When asked about spending plans when the economy improves, the majority of consumers indicate an unwillingness to revert back to former spending habits.

While this recession may be the worst since the depression days of the 1930’s, it’s also a great opportunity for you, the wine consumer. Right now, the U.S. is the sweet spot for wine deals so keep on the alert and take advantage of these deals if, and when, you can.

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