Wait. Is this accurate?
I couldn't find an index that tracks prices of everyman wine over time, so this casual survey will have to suffice. Still, I think it's informative. To see if it is, I jogged back to a few dozen Winethropology reviews from back in 2009. Four years ought to be enough to test whether a trend is afoot or now. Know what? Maybe prices aren't rising - not in an absolute sense anyway.
There is no rule or common denominator here in terms of price points or quality, but one thing's for sure - almost no producers are lowering their prices. In fact, some producers' price hikes are flat out audacious. A few supporting observations that help show just how ballsy it is to raise prices (in some cases 20-40% over four years) so high:
- Quality has not surged in recent years the way that it has in recent decades, so it's not like you're suddenly getting a vastly superior product for the money. Hell, California is still trying to shrug off two of the worst back-to-back vintages in along time, Australia is in the throes of a pubescent identity crisis, and much of the Old World is still trying to figure out if it wants to be Old World.
- Inflation is generally insignificant in this analysis. Wages have stagnated. Can producers argue that they should charge more because their customers can pay more? Doubt it.
- Scarcity is crap. Rumors of lean, precious yields surface periodically only to be debunked by farmers who actually work the vineyards. Vineyard management (thanks to deep well irrigation) is such a tightly controlled science anymore that yields are a more a function of desire than of Mother Nature. So, please, don't buy the "2013 was an incredible year, but there's only a little of the special wine to be had" BS.
In the meantime...