Wine collecting is more than just a hobby; it's a passion that allows you and your guests to explore the world from the comfort of your home, through the lens of flavors and aromas, terroir and winemaking traditions. Even if you're new to the world of wine, building and managing a wine collection can be a fulfilling and rewarding endeavor. In this blog post, we'll guide you through Wine Collecting 101, sharing tips and insights to help you begin, curate and enjoy your own wine collection.
1. Define Your Goals
Before you start collecting, consider your goals. Are you collecting for investment, personal enjoyment, or a combination of both? Understanding your objectives will help shape your collection and guide your purchasing decisions.
2. Start with a Diverse Selection
Variety is the spice of wine collecting. Begin by selecting wines thta you like or are curious about, from different regions, grape varietals, and vintages. This diversity not only enriches your taste and your collection but also ensures you have several options for various occasions and cuisines.
3. Establish Proper Storage
Proper storage is essential to preserving the quality of your wines. Invest in a wine cellar, wine refrigerator, or wine storage service that maintains consistent temperature and humidity levels. Keep wines away from direct sunlight and vibrations.
4. Keep Detailed Records
Maintain a meticulous record of your wine collection. Include information about each bottle's origin, producer and vintage, purchase date and price. This helps you track your collection's value and ensures you enjoy wines at their peak.
5. Learn About Wine Aging
Understanding how different wines age is fundamental to collecting. Some wines are meant to be enjoyed young, while others benefit from years of aging. Research and consult experts to learn when to open each bottle, and consider purchasing multiple bottles of a wine that you select for your collection, allowing you to taste it at different stages of its development and appreciate its evolving character over the years.
6. Join Wine Clubs and Attend Tastings
Wine clubs and tastings are excellent ways to discover new wines and expand your palate. Joining a wine club or attending local tastings can introduce you to unique selections and connect you with fellow wine enthusiasts.
7. Budget Wisely
Set a budget for your wine collecting journey and revise it periodically as possible. Collecting doesn't have to break the bank, but it's essential to be mindful of the financials. Allocate funds for both purchasing and storage costs.
8. Seek Expert Advice
Don't hesitate to seek advice from professionals, experts and fellow collectors. Their insights can be invaluable in making informed decisions and navigating the world of wine.
9. Enjoy the Journey
Always remember that wine collecting is much more about the journey than it is about the destination. Savoring mindfully each bottle and sharing them with friends and loved ones will make the experience truly memorable.
10. How DFW Can Help Wine Collectors
At Delfino Fine Wines, we understand the passion and dedication that goes into wine collecting. We're here to support collectors at every stage of their journey. Our curated selections includes age-worthy classics right out of the winery, as well as rare and vintage wines professionally sourced and stored, offering you the opportunity to discover hidden gems and coveted bottles for your collection. We can provide personalized recommendations, sourcing and US importing assistance, and access to unique wines that align with your collecting goals. Whether you're a seasoned collector or just starting, DFW is your trusted partner in building and managing a wine collection that reflects your tastes and aspirations. Explore our offerings, and let us elevate your wine collecting experience to new heights.
At Delfino Fine Wines, we believe that enjoying wine in a social setting should be an immersive experience that can transform your friends and family gatherings into unforgettable occasions. In this blog post, we'll share our insights on how to create a wine tasting event that leaves a lasting impression on your guests, whether you're hosting a cozy evening with friends or planning a special celebration.
Setting the Stage: Creating the Right Atmosphere
Transform your home into a welcoming wine oasis. Whether in your living room, garden, or a special event space, consider the ambiance. Lighting, music, and decor can all contribute to a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere that allows your guests to focus on the wines and the moments they create together.
Curate a Diverse Wine Selection
Diversity is key to a successful wine tasting at home. Choose a range of wines that span different varietals, regions, and styles. This not only may introduce your guests to new flavors but also spark conversations and curiosity.
Knowledgeable Host or Wine Enthusiast
You don't need a sommelier to host a memorable wine tasting at home. However, having a host who is informed about the wines and can share insights will elevate the experience. Offer tidbits about the wines' and producers' origins, winemaking techniques, and flavor profiles to engage your guests.
Food Pairings: Elevating the Tasting Experience
Enhance your wine tasting with carefully selected food pairings. Small bites, cheese boards, or charcuterie platters can complement the wines and add a culinary dimension to your event. A well-matched pairing can make each wine shine.
Engage the Senses: Beyond Taste
Encourage your guests to engage all their senses. Provide different wine glass shapes to highlight specific wine characteristics. Share visual aids such as maps and images of the wineries. And remember, taking the time to swirl the wine in the glass and enjoying its aroma should be a delightful part of the tasting journey.
Interactive Elements: Games and Challenges
For added fun and engagement, consider incorporating interactive elements like blind tastings, aroma recognition challenges, or even a wine-themed trivia game. These activities can create a lively atmosphere and make your home tasting more interactive and enjoyable.
Sending your guests home with a keepsake adds a thoughtful touch to your wine tasting event. Customized wine glass charms, tasting notes, or a small gift related to the wines they've sampled can serve as a pleasant reminder of the wonderful time they had at your gathering.
In summary, crafting a memorable wine tasting experience at home is an art that combines the right wines, ambiance, engaging elements, and your unique personal touch. Whether you're a homeowner hosting friends or a party organizer planning a special event, a well-executed wine tasting can create lasting memories and a deeper appreciation for the world of wine.
At Delfino Fine Wines, we don't stop at providing exceptional wines; we're here to assist you every step of the way. From helping you choose the perfect wine and food pairings to offering advice on creating the ideal atmosphere, we are dedicated to ensuring your event is a resounding success. We can provide insights on selecting the right glassware, share tips and offer tools for engaging your guests with interactive wine-themed activities, and even recommend memorable keepsakes to send your attendees home with. Our mission is to transform your gathering into an unforgettable wine experience that will leave everyone talking about it for years to come.
Cheers to the joy of learning to appreciate wine, discovery and celebration in every glass!
In the world of fine dining, a meticulously curated wine list can be the crown jewel of a restaurant's offerings. It's the perfect complement to a sumptuous meal, elevating the dining experience to new heights. At Delfino Fine Wines (DFW), we understand the importance of crafting a wine list that not only impresses but also delights your guests. In this blog post, we'll explore the art of wine pairing and how you can take your restaurant's wine list to the next level.
Why Wine Pairing Matters
Wine pairing is more than just a fancy term used by sommeliers. It's the science and art of selecting wines that harmonize with the flavors and textures of the dishes on your menu. The right pairing can enhance the taste of both the food and the wine, creating a memorable dining experience that keeps your patrons coming back for more.
The Fundamentals of Wine Pairing
Wine pairing is an art that can be approached in two fundamental ways: by affinity and by contrast. When pairing by affinity, the goal is to find wines that share similar aromas and flavors with the dish. For example, a Vermentino can beautifully complement a citrusy seafood ceviche, as both exhibit vibrant, zesty characteristics. The Vermentino's crisp acidity and citrus notes harmonize with the dish's flavors, creating a delightful pairing. On the other hand, pairing by contrast involves selecting wines that offer a counterpoint to the flavors and textures of the food. An example is the pairing of a rich, tannic Taurasi with a succulent, fatty grilled steak. The Taurasi's bold structure and dark fruit notes contrast with the meat's richness, creating a harmonious balance. Understanding these two approaches, along with your menu's nuances, is the elementary foundation for creating memorable wine pairings that delight your guests and enhance their dining experience at your restaurant.
Food and Wine Pairing by Geography of Origin
Another obvious but exciting dimension of food and wine pairing lies in considering the geography of the wine's origin and its synergy with regional dishes. This approach taps into the concept of "terroir," where wines acquire unique characteristics from the climate, soil, and traditions of the region where they are produced. For instance, picture a luscious bowl of pasta with a rich Bolognese sauce—pairing it with a full-bodied Sangiovese from Tuscany can create a profound connection between the wine and the dish's traditional origins. Likewise, if your menu showcases the flavors of Provence, France, consider serving a delicate Provencal rosé with a fresh seafood salad. The regional harmony between the wine and the cuisine can transport your guests on a culinary and cultural journey, making their dining experience truly exceptional.
Understanding Your Menu
Before you embark on the journey of wine pairing, it's crucial to have an intimate knowledge of your menu. What are the key ingredients, flavors, and cooking techniques featured in your dishes? Are there signature items that demand a special wine pairing? By understanding your menu inside and out, you can begin to identify wines that will complement and enhance the culinary creations your chef has crafted.
Engaging with Your Guests
A well-crafted wine list is just the beginning. Train your staff to engage with guests about wine pairing options. Encourage them to suggest pairings based on the diners' preferences and the dishes they've ordered. A knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff can make all the difference in the dining experience.
Experiment and Refine
Don't be afraid to experiment with wine pairings. Hosting wine and food pairing events or offering tasting flights can be a fun way to introduce your customers to new flavor combinations. Pay attention to feedback and use it to refine your wine list over time.
Elevating your restaurant's wine list is an ongoing process that requires dedication and a commitment to excellence. By understanding your menu, offering exclusive wines, and fostering a culture of wine knowledge among your staff, you can create a wine list that sets your restaurant apart. Wine pairing is not just a skill; it's an art that can transform an ordinary meal into an extraordinary experience.
At Delfino Fine Wines, we're here to support you on your journey to creating an exceptional wine list. Contact us to explore our exclusive selections and services, and let's work together to delight your guests with the perfect wine pairings. Cheers to elevating your restaurant's dining experience!
Discover Hidden Gems: Small Italian Wine Producers Imported to Oregon and California
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Immerse yourself in the charm of small Italian wine producers, available right here in Oregon and California, brought to you by Delfino Fine Wines. Elevate your wine experience — click here to discover the hidden gems that Italy has to offer!
Food and wine have a fascinating interplay that can significantly influence each other's flavors. When paired thoughtfully, the combination of food and wine can enhance and elevate the overall dining experience. Here's how food can change the flavor of wine and vice versa:
1. Complementary and Contrasting Flavors:
Complementary Pairing: Certain flavors in food can complement the flavors in wine, creating a harmonious blend. For example, the fruity notes in a wine can complement the sweetness of a dish, enhancing both the wine's fruitiness and the dish's flavors.
Contrasting Pairing: Contrasting flavors between the food and wine can create a balance that highlights specific characteristics. For instance, a high-acid wine can cut through the richness of a fatty dish, providing a refreshing contrast.
2. Enhanced Sensory Perception:
Food can affect how you perceive the flavors of wine. For example, a wine might seem more acidic when tasted alone, but when paired with a dish that has a slightly tangy sauce, the acidity might balance out and appear more integrated.
3. Texture and Mouthfeel:
The texture of food can impact the perception of a wine's mouthfeel. Creamy foods can soften the tannins in a wine, making it feel smoother, while a wine with high tannins can provide structure to a fatty dish.
4. Flavor Intensification:
Certain food components can intensify the flavors in a wine. Spicy dishes, for example, can make a wine's fruitiness more pronounced, or the wine's spice can amplify the heat of the food.
5. Aromatics and Aromas:
Food aromas can interact with the aromas in wine. Subtle herbal or spice notes in a dish can complement similar notes in a wine, enhancing the aromatic experience.
6. Balance and Harmony:
The goal of food and wine pairing is to create balance and harmony. The combination should feel like a unified experience where neither the food nor the wine overwhelms the other.
7. Cultural and Regional Influences:
Pairing wine with regional cuisine can enhance the cultural experience. Wines from a specific region often complement dishes that have evolved alongside those wines.
8. Experimentation and Personal Preference:
Ultimately, food and wine pairing is subjective. While there are classic pairings that work well, personal taste plays a significant role. Experimenting with different combinations can lead to discovering unique and enjoyable pairings that suit your palate.
It's important to note that there's no one-size-fits-all rule for food and wine pairing. While there are general guidelines, individual preferences and the specific characteristics of each wine and dish play a significant role in how they interact. The best way to understand the impact of food on wine and vice versa is through experimentation, tasting, and exploration.
Exploring the Fascinating Flavors of Pigato: A Hidden Gem of Ligurian Wines
When it comes to Italian wines, the spotlight often shines on classic varietals like Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Aglianico, etc. However, nestled along the picturesque coastline of Liguria, there's a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by wine enthusiasts - the Pigato grape.
Origins and Terroir: Pigato is a white grape variety native to the Ligurian region of Italy, particularly in the western part known as the Riviera di Ponente. The name "Pigato" is said to derive from "pigàu," meaning spotted or speckled, which could refer to the appearance of the grape clusters.
The terroir of Liguria plays a significant role in shaping the characteristics of Pigato wines. The vineyards are located on steep slopes overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, benefiting from the maritime influence that helps maintain the grape's vibrant freshness and distinct minerality, even imparting a touch of seabreeze in the flavors of some of the best expressions.
Aromatic Complexity: Pigato wines are celebrated for their aromatic complexity, capturing the essence of the coastal landscape. On the nose, expect a delightful blend of ripe stone fruits like peach and apricot, sometimes accompanied by zesty citrus notes of lemon and a touch of tangy pineapple. These fruit-driven aromas are interwoven in floral scents, evoking images of the Ligurian coastline adorned with yellow and white blossoms of wild flowers and mediterranean bushes in the summertime, as well as herbal elements - aromas of liguria-native basil are often distinctively found.
Mineral Elegance: One of the standout characteristics of Pigato wines is their pronounced minerality. The soils of Liguria, a mix of clay and limestone, lend the wines a distinct stony quality that adds a layer of elegance and depth. This minerality complements the fruitiness, creating a harmonious balance that makes Pigato a versatile companion for various dishes.
Food Pairing Pleasures: Pigato wines' versatility extends to the dining table, where they can be paired with a range of Mediterranean-inspired dishes. The lively freshness and mineral notes make them a natural match for seafood delicacies, such as grilled prawns, fresh oysters, or a simple plate of linguine with clams. Additionally, their aromatic complexity and structure allow them to hold their own alongside herb-infused dishes like pesto pasta and roasted vegetables, as well as white meat dishes.
Ageability and Exploration: While Pigato wines are often enjoyed in their youth for their vibrant freshness, some bottlings can also exhibit aging potential. With time, the fruit flavors may evolve, and the wine may gain more complexity while maintaining its refreshing character.
For wine enthusiasts seeking an exciting journey off the beaten path of Italian wines, Pigato presents an opportunity to explore a lesser-known yet incredibly rewarding varietal. Its unique blend of fruit, minerality, and coastal charm captures the essence of Liguria in every sip, making Pigato a true hidden gem waiting to be uncorked and savored.
Here's a link to our 2020 Pigato by Marcello Calleri, which was awarded the prestigious "3 bicchieri" Gambero Rosso (maximum score Italy-wide), an exclusive import of Delfino Fine Wines in the United States.
Sipping Convenience: The Rise of Canned Wine
In recent years, the world of wine has undergone a remarkable transformation, defying traditional norms and embracing modern trends. Among the notable changes, the surge in popularity of canned wine stands out as a symbol of innovation and convenience in the wine industry. No longer confined to glass bottles and corks, wine lovers can now enjoy their favorite vintages from the sleek, portable, and eco-friendly confines of a can.
Breaking the Mold
Canned wine, once met with skepticism, has swiftly evolved from a novelty to a bona fide trend. This innovation has challenged the longstanding notions of wine consumption, proving that excellent wine experiences need not be limited to traditional packaging. The shift to canned wine has effectively broken down barriers, welcoming a wider audience into the world of oenophiles. From picnics to pool parties, these easy-to-carry cans have seamlessly integrated wine into a variety of social contexts.
The convenience factor is undeniably the driving force behind the rapid adoption of canned wine. With modern lifestyles demanding flexibility and adaptability, canned wine provides an ideal solution for busy individuals. The portability of these cans means that you no longer need to worry about carrying around a cumbersome bottle opener or fret about broken glass during outdoor activities. A quick pop of the tab grants you access to a refreshing sip of your favorite wine.
One of the lingering concerns about canned wine has been its ability to preserve the freshness and flavor that wine enthusiasts hold dear. However, advancements in canning technology and techniques have addressed these concerns head-on. Many wineries now utilize specially designed cans that protect the wine from light and oxygen, safeguarding the integrity of the taste and aroma. As a result, the canned wine experience can rival that of wine served from a bottle.
Beyond convenience and taste preservation, canned wine carries an eco-friendly advantage that aligns with contemporary environmental consciousness. The lightweight aluminum cans generate a smaller carbon footprint compared to glass bottles, thanks to reduced transportation costs and energy consumption. Additionally, aluminum cans are more easily recyclable than glass bottles, adding another layer of appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.
Variety and Accessibility
Canned wine isn't just about convenience—it's about expanding the horizon of wine enjoyment. From classic reds and whites to effervescent rosés and even sparkling options, the world of canned wine offers a surprisingly diverse selection. These cans bring approachability to wine, dismantling the notion that wine appreciation requires a degree in oenology. With more wineries embracing this trend, the variety of canned options is only set to expand further.
As canned wine continues to disrupt the traditional landscape of wine consumption, it's evident that this trend is here to stay. The intersection of convenience, sustainability, and diversity has paved the way for a new era of wine enjoyment that appeals to both seasoned wine enthusiasts and those just starting their journey into the world of grapes and terroir. So, whether you're enjoying a picnic in the park or hosting a rooftop gathering, don't be surprised to see the unmistakable sight of canned wine making its mark on the scene. Cheers to innovation in every sip!
Wine, a timeless elixir crafted by nature and nurtured by human hands, holds within its depths a rich tapestry of history, culture, and flavor. The act of wine drinking transcends mere consumption; it becomes a gateway to a realm where the senses are awakened, and the complexities of the world are distilled into every sip. Whether you are a seasoned sommelier or a curious novice, embarking on a journey through the world of wine is an endeavor that promises not only the enjoyment of a beverage but an immersion into a world of artistry and heritage.
The allure of wine lies not just in its taste, but also in the stories it tells. From the sun-drenched vineyards of Bordeaux to the picturesque hills of Tuscany, each bottle encapsulates a chapter of history, geography, and tradition. Every vineyard, every grape varietal, carries with it the imprint of its surroundings, a concept known as "terroir." As you raise a glass to your lips, you're not just tasting a liquid; you're experiencing the soil, climate, and expertise that have converged to create this unique expression.
The spectrum of wines is as diverse as the world itself. Reds, whites, rosés, and bubblies offer a kaleidoscope of flavors and aromas, from the bold intensity of a Cabernet Sauvignon to the delicate effervescence of a Champagne. The act of swirling, smelling, and savoring becomes an exploration of your own palate and preferences, each glass unveiling layers of fruity, floral, herbal, and even mineral notes.
But wine is more than just a drink—it's an accompaniment to moments and memories. Whether it's a candlelit dinner with a loved one, a lively gathering of friends, or a solitary evening of reflection, wine has the remarkable ability to enhance the experience. It's a conversation starter, a muse for thought, and a catalyst for connection.
As you delve deeper into the world of wine, you'll encounter a diverse lexicon that may seem intimidating at first. Terms like tannins, acidity, and body might appear daunting, but they serve as tools to articulate the nuances that make each wine distinct. Don't be discouraged by the complexity; rather, embrace it as an invitation to refine your palate and develop an appreciation for the intricate dance between flavors and textures.
Whether you're drawn to the elegance of Old World wines or the vibrancy of New World creations, the journey of wine drinking is a personal odyssey that invites exploration and education. From the vine to the glass, from vineyards to cellars, the world of wine is a tapestry woven with centuries of tradition, modern innovation, and an ever-evolving appreciation for the art of fermentation.
So, raise your glass with a sense of curiosity and reverence. Embark on a voyage through vineyards and vintages, and allow wine to transport you to lands both near and far. With every sip, you're not just tasting a liquid; you're savoring the essence of a culture, a place, and a moment in time. Cheers to the boundless world of wine and the endless adventures it promises to those willing to explore.
We love to import fine, rare and vintage bottles of wine from Old Europe in to the United States. An extremely important task for so many, sure indeed!
Old vines have deep roots, the more they work down the ground, the wider the range of flavors and organoleptic complexity ultimately espressed in the fruit. These old vines have also learned with time to prioritize the stream of nutrients from the deeply grounded roots, across the plant and right to the fruit, in order to promote the maturation of the fewer grapes, which release this special juice of more concentrated flavors, when much less energy is dedicated by these expert vines to growing leaves and greenage shields, in their late lives.
Just as much, as the finest wine that is aged in barrels for later enjoyment, in say twenty, or fourty, or even 100+ years after making it - that wine which changes in ways that when you taste it, you are looking straight down and deep on those twenty, fourty or 100+ years, transported back in time and history in terms of aromas and flavors and sensations.
And here's another photo gallery with some vintage Original Wood Cases (OWC) that we have currently in the store.
In my previous post, I stated that price has no fundamental bearing on a definition of Fine Wine: at DFW, we call Fine Wine what can be directly and verifiably traced to very specific, well farmed vineyards and very specific, capable and passionated winemakers - that's all. I define it that way because I want the selection of our wines to be driven by natural pedigree and quality considerations, rather than by considerations around markets and prices.
However, and obviously, price is both important and limiting to most of us. But even more, and after all, there must be such a price, below which a wine could not possibly, by any means, be called a Fine Wine, right? Well, yes, of course there is - and we'll address that, today with this article. Ultimately, the larger purposes of this post are to (1) provide fundamental elements to this audience about the most relevant factors that impact the retail price of wine in the United States at this point in time; (2) presenting reasonable price ranges that wine consumers can expect for products subdivided in various useful price categories; and finally (3) how does Fine Wine relate to those pricing categories.
Introduction: Wine Price Categories
As a first definition, by 'price of wine' here I mean the dollar amount charged to a consumer for a standard 750 ml bottle (or equivalent) of wine, when bought in person from a licensed retailer, to take away. The table of commercial categories used at Delfino Fine Wines (which is not very different from information that can be found from various other sources) is as follows:
|Commercial Category||Retail Price of 750ml|
|Super Value||$4.99 and under|
|Economy||$5.00 to $9.99|
|Popular||$10 to $19.99|
|Basic Premium||$20 to $39.99|
|Super Premium||$40 to $79.99|
|Ultra Premium||$80 to $149.99|
|Luxury||$150 to $999|
|Exclusive Luxury||$1,000 and above|
Thus, a 'Super Value' is defined as a wine that retails at a store for $4.99 or less per 750ml, and 'Economy' is between $5 and $10; a 'Popular' wine is what you can buy at a store for $10-$20; 'Basic Premium' is between $20 and $40 and so on into a couple more Premium price categories, up to what we define here as 'Luxury' priced wines, retailing between $150 and $1,000 per 750ml. Finally, regarding the most expensive category of 'Exclusive Luxury' wines, defined in the table as priced at over $1,000 per 750ml, these are exclusive products in the true sense of the term, meaning that these wines are just not readily available to anyone with the money but instead often requirie prior allocations, introductions between the parties made through trusted intermediaries, and some varying levels of negotiations and agreements between winery and clients, either within the centuries-old winemaking aristocracy, or the emerging stars panorama - in these cases, the wines become iconized and reach disproportionate greater demand than these small boutique operations can and want to supply.
Now, a few clarifications and elaborations on the table presented above are needed.
- First of all, the pricing table presented above applies to wine retailed in the US, pre-tax, and in a very generic fashion. In particular here, variations between different US states and markets certainly occur, but are not that large in my experience, especially for products that are mass-produced and mass-distributed (i.e. not Fine Wine per my definition).
- The pricing table also lumps together and does not distinguish between the many types of wine. At an elementary level, it does not even differentiate between white wines and red wines, or still and sparkling. Intuitively, and factually in most cases, still red wines vinification is generally more involved, i.e. more expensive and riskier, than still white wines vinication, thus feeding the general knowledge that, for equal 'quality' (let's say, same winemaker, same land), the red wine will retail at a bit higher price than the white wine of the same producer line. Similarly, a sparkling vinification is generally more involved than a still vinification and thus generally more expensive for the producer, and more pricey for the consumer. Although those are all valid points, there is still a lot of use in the single pricing table presented above: from a simplicity point of view, first of all; and moreover, also considering the fact that the reported values are a depiction of some extent of "semi-official pricing segmentation" in the US wine industry. In other words, the table reflects the fact that in the US, it is more likely to see a white and a red from the same producer / same brand line, priced at say $25 and $35 respectively ('Basic Premium' range), than it is to see them priced at $35 and $45 (across two pricing categories); more likely to see $60 and $75 ('Super Premium'), than $75 and $90 (across ranges).
- Third point. The prices in the three lower categories - Super Value, Economy, and Popular - are driven by production costs and as low as possible. The prices in the Premium and Luxury categories are driven by (1) consumer's demand and taste of the wine (in first place, ideally); (2) industry recognition and awards received (in second place, ideally); and by (3) the 'halo' of desire created by marketing activities (in last place, ideally) - however in different relative proportions from case to case. A "graduation" of a brand or product from lower to higher 'Premium' and 'Luxury' categories must necessarily be backed by increased metrics on at least one of those three parameters, and preferably increased on both the first two as listed, if any chances of long-term success are sought.
- No shipping fees are considered in the pricing table as presented. Shipping fees by online retailers are sometimes embedded in online prices, and sometimes even waived, perhaps based on order's quantity (and with some states, as for example California, specifically regulating the terminology aspects, i.e. "shipping included" is OK vs. "free shipping", not OK) but in all cases, it is undoubtful that direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping brings considerable added costs to the retailer. These costs include DTC licensing fees, reporting requirements and privilege taxes at the States level, shipping materials and staff time for custom packaging, and then the shipping fees charged by a licensed carrier. Without entering into multifaceted dynamics of costing-pricing in wine economics, retailers margins and business models, online-only or brick-and-mortar + online shipping, next-day or same-day or even two-hours wine delivery by large grocery stores in metro centers, etc., the point I want to make here is this: unless shipping is explicitely and separately quoted, or unless it's an obvious and recognizable promotion (in which case the retailer decides to take on themselves the shipping expense thus reducing their margins, in part or whole, for a limited time or permanently on specific products) when buying wine online and especially from online-only merchants, you should assume that 'free shipping' or 'shipping included' means about $5 per bottle for shipping, to be subtracted from the wine value. So for example, let's consider a 750ml bottle that is offered online at $13.99, total price delivered to your place (i.e., shipping included, or 'free shipping'). Looking up our table above with $13.99 would indicate that this bottle is in the 'Popular' price category; however, accounting for the shipping/delivery costs (again, to be considered in the vast majority of cases, only excluding exceptional deals and promotions), I would actually consider this $13.99 bottle, total price delivered home, as an 'Economy' wine in the $5-$10 range (if US produced) or even sometimes as a 'Super Value' wine under $5 per 750ml (if imported - next bullet).
- For imported wine, the importing cost from a producer abroad into the US trade is an adder that is ultimately embedded in the retail price, in a way or another. We should keep in mind that such importing costs are both 1) greatly increased (i.e., doubled or more) after the Covid-19 international supply chain impacts, still unresolved as of the time of this writing; and 2) strongly dependent on whether the imported wine was finished and bottled (or otherwise packaged for retail) abroad, or if it was instead imported as bulk wine in shipping totes or tanks, and further processed, bottled/packaged later by a separate licensed facility in the US (which brings on processing and bottling/packaging costs in the US and also which, by our definition, would be an exclusion to the 'Fine Wine' definition). About the second point, transportation costs are about half if wine is bulk transported in large totes or tanks, than if it is transported in glass bottles: a glass bottle is in fact just about a 2x multiplier on both volume and weight of a wine. In practice, my suggestion for imported wine is to subtract $2-$3 (imported in bulk and further processed/bottled/packaged in the US - read the label!) to $5 (bottled at the origin and imported fully finished) per 750ml, from the retail price in order to find the value to enter in the table above and determine the wine price category.
- The previous two bullets can be summarized with two examples as follows:
- A US wine that retails for say $17.99 in a brick-and-mortar store is in the same category as an imported wine (bottled at the origin) that retails at $22-$23. Specifically, they should be considered as both belonging to the 'Popular' pricing category ($10-$20).
- A US wine retailing online at say $13.99, shipping included, is in the same category as a bulk-imported wine (further processed and bottled/packaged in the US) retailing online for $15-$17, namely both of them should be considered as belonging to the 'Economy' price category ($5-$10).
Just a Bit Deeper on Price and Cost of Wine.
Now let's expand a bit more on the pricing categories defined in the table above, with an end in mind: how does Fine Wine relate to these categories? In order to address that goal, we now need to take a look at the cost of wine, which we'll define here as the dollar amount that can be directly attributed to making one unit of wine, taken as 750ml fully finished at the winery (or at the final step of a producing process with multiple facilities) and ready for the market. It should be clear that this topic too is very complex and hardly adaptable to a generalized analysis and narrative. Here, I'll state just a few, bounding assumptions and then will just proceed to reporting the results of simplistic and rough estimates, with very large ranges, but still reasonable and useful for the low- and high-ends costs of making a bottle of wine.
We consider the following as the main adders to the cost of wine:
- The cost of the grapes to be made into the finished wine; or the cost of bulk wine bought from someone else, to be processed into a finished wine product. The following are the costs that we will assume as low- and high-end, for the US:
- The cost of the grapes needed to make wine ranges from $0.30 to $30 per 750 ml
- Note: these are not absolute minimum and maximum, as outliers exist on either end. However, these values can be considered as bounding of the large majority of situations for the purposes of this discussion. Moreover, this is based on the cost of grapes on the US winemaking market with a very wide range of about $200 to $20,000 per ton, thus it generally bounds on the high-end the lower expected (but not always realized!) grape costs for those winemakers who are also growers and use their own grapes. This range also covers the cost of wine grapes cultivated and used abroad, which generally amounts to much less than the US costs, especially on the higher end of the range.
- For bulk wine processors/bottlers, the cost of 750ml of input bulk wine used to make a finished commercial wine product currently ranges in the market from $0.40 to $25 per 750 ml.
- The cost of the grapes needed to make wine ranges from $0.30 to $30 per 750 ml
- The cost of the "consumable physical resources" (energy, water, process materials, containers and cooperage, other materials, time in settling/aging) and the human labor needed to make the finished wine from input grapes, or from input bulk wine. Again, a very complex topic, highly situation-specific, but this is what we'll use with our rough, simplified and bounding estimate:
- The cost of consumable physical resources and labor used to make a finished wine product ranges widely from $0.20 to $20 per 750ml.
- The cost of packaging incurred to make the finished wine. We will use a wide range of $0.50 to $10 per 750ml of finished product.
- The cost of the grapes to be made into the finished wine; or the cost of bulk wine bought from someone else, to be processed into a finished wine product. The following are the costs that we will assume as low- and high-end, for the US:
We will not consider in detail any other costs, mostly indirect (of which there are many - real estate, capital equipment, licensing, financial, commercial/banking, insurance costs, etc..), but instead we will use a 1.5x multiplier on the sum of the three adders, essentially assuming that the three elements listed above only account for 66% of all costs.
This simplified and bounding estimate finally results in a cost of making wine ranging from about $1 to $100 per 750ml of finished product. The lower end of the range estimates the cost of mass-producing wine in large, industrial style processes, while the higher end of the range estimates the cost of making wine in a boutique winery with 'luxury' selections all-around. To my knowledge, this range, obviously very wide, bounds the majority of information derived from more rigorous economic analyses, which in some instance are published, but that in most cases are kept business confidential. Typical producer costs per finished 750ml that I've directly seen or indirectly calculated are:
- Between $1 to $5 for industrial wines (let's say worldwide, for the purposes of this discussion).
- Between $2.50 and $20 for Fine Wines made in the Old World.
- Between $5 and $50 for Fine Wines made in the US.
I realize that I am not addressing any New World Fine Wines from South America, South Africa and Oceania (plus a few other wine-making regions) and hopefully I'll be able to add that specific information in the future. For this discussion, however, imports from these regions can be considered as Old World wines (i.e., it is generally less expensive to cultivate grapes and make wine in those regions than it is in the US; then, they need to be imported into the US). Now, considering that about 90% (order of magnitude, see previous post) of all wine in the US trade is of industrial nature, it can be argued within the assumptions made here that for 90% of the wine products in the US market, the cost of making a finished 750ml of wine at the producer level is $5 or less, while the remainder 10% of products is distributed in a wide price range of $5 to $50+ (not uniformely, but tailling off significantly; i.e., very, very few commercial producers are making wines costing them $50 or more per finished 750ml, and when they do, it is for very small batches sold in the 'Luxury' price categories).
Finally: The Price of Fine Wine.
The details behind the estimates above may be reported in a following post, but now we'll proceed to assess a minimum retail price for Fine Wine in the US, both domestic and imported.
Between the producer cost and the retail price, there are a number of logistics steps that are needed to take the product to market. Again, this is quite a complex topic, given the variety of commercial models, advertising strategies, numbers, size and quality of the players involved in the distribution network; and all obviously highly regulated at the Federal, States, and local level (which does not come gratis, and each US state is different from the other in terms of alcoholic beverages distribution rules). To simplify once more, we'll consider a low-end and high-end multiplier on the producer's costs (the cost of wine) to estimate the total markup ending with a retailer price (the price of wine). We'll use 2.5x for the low-end and 4.5x for the high end (and excluding international shipping, which needs to be added before the multiplier, lumped with the foreign producer's cost). In other words, this multiplier represents the total markup accounting for producer's profit and importation if applicable, all costs and profits in the logistics and marketing chain between producer or importer and retailer (i.e., the distribution), and retailer's profit. Let's make a few examples:
- Let's consider a bottle of industrial wine, costing a US producer say $2.25 per finished 750ml. The producer sets its supplier price at $3.49. A large distributor handles the logistics and marketing, resulting in a wholesale price of $5.99 to the retailer. The retailer, let's say a national supermarket chain, lists the product at $8.99. This would be a typical example of the 3-tier system at work in the US, resulting in this example in an 'Economy' priced wine, and a 4.0x multiplier as total markup from production cost to retail price.
- Another US 3-tier example: same arrangement as above but with a Fine Wine, say with a production cost of $8.50. This producer sets its supplier price at $13.00 (and let's say, its Tasting Room retail price at $30, further discounted to $25 for Wine Club members). Given the brand name recognition that this producer was able to build over the years, as well as a notably stable production quantity of this product to say 20,000 cases per year, a large distributor accepts trading this wine, resulting in a wholesale price of $19.75 to the retailer. The retailer, let's say a local supermarket or wine shop, lists the product at $29.99. In this example, we have sees a 'Basic Premium' wine making the market, with a 3.5x multiplier as total markup from production cost to retail price.
- Third example: an online subscription model with bulk imported wine (i.e., not Fine Wine!). Let's say a US wine processor/packager buys enough bulk wine from a producer abroad to make a small batch (but again, not Fine Wine in my book!) of 5,000 cases of a finished product (12x750ml per case). That is 450 hl (hectoliters), or about 12,000 gallons. Let's say the foreign producer negotiates its price at $1/liter, or $0.75 per 750 ml, to the US wine processor. In addition, let's say that this US business incurs importing costs of $1 per liter of bulk wine, as well as further processing and packaging costs at its US facility of $1.75 per 750ml. The total direct production cost of this wine product is thus $3.25 per finished 750ml. Let's say this US business sells wine online, direct to consumer with a subscription model, advertising a "no middle man" or "winery direct" model. They set their online price at $13.99, with "free shipping" when bought together with other products for a minimum quantity of, say, 12 bottles. In this example, we have seen an 'Economy' wine making the market, imported in bulk from abroad and packaged in the US (enter the pricing table with $13.99 -$2 for bulk import, -$5 for free shipping = $6.99 = 'Economy' wine) with a 4.3x multiplier as total markup from production cost to home delivery price.
With these (plus all the above) assumptions, and seen some examples, the results are finally in...
- It is highly unlikely that an American Fine Wine can retail at a brick-and-mortar store for less than $15 per 750ml.
- It is highly unlikely that an Old World Fine Wine can retail at a brick-and-mortar store for less than $20 per 750ml.
It is highly unlikely that an American Fine Wine can be delivered directly to your place for less than $20 per 750ml.
It is highly unlikely that an Old World Fine Wine can be delivered directly to your place for less than $25 per 750ml.
On the other hand, it is unjustified from a sole costing/pricing point of view that a Fine Wine, domestic or imported, should retail in the US for more than $450 per 750ml. When that is the case, you know that the extra is due to the name and the fame, and you should then be aware and decide informed, what is worth what, according to your own situation and decision-making process.
You know you want to
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