Victoria Moore in the Guardian has penned a superb article summing up the practise whereby ‘wine’ buyers are led by price rather than quality. A must read for all wine drinkers.
“One wine importer, who asked to remain nameless for obvious reasons, is more open still: “I often find myself touting a £7.99 wine that will actually sell mainly at £3.99. The idea is that people will believe it might really be worth something in between those two prices – perhaps £5.99. It’s not. It’s worth £3.99 and not a penny more.” In other words, anyone who pays full price for it is being very badly ripped off.
A couple of big retailers have recently been approaching their wine suppliers to invite them to “share in their success” by “supporting” their future investment and business expansion – which must be a bit like getting a call from Tony Soprano asking if you have anything to donate to Carmela’s charity auction. Business is business, of course, and it would be naive to think otherwise. But all these tactics effectively discriminate against the smaller producer, who cannot always compete with the huge marketing budgets of the larger brands. It’s harder for them to win a listing in the first place, and if they do get there, they may find it’s not worth it, not least because too many shoppers are ensnared by the prominently displayed “promotions”, ignoring the boutique wine that is never discounted and thus hidden away on the bottom shelf. The result is less choice for you, the wine drinker.”
Moore indicates that every-time a wine is mentioned in supermarkets, whether in a club card points offer, a shelf-barker, end of gantry positioning, an in-store magazine food suggestion and so on, that this mention has been paid for by the producer. No wonder smaller estates never get to the shelves. She mentions this is ‘not common practise’ but I have known of such practises from the very beginning of my career in wine.
I doubt the average wine buyer knows. And probably couldn’t care less.