Trading down: recession and wine trends [poll]

An op-ed in the Times yesterday puzzled over why beer sales are down while the economy is also in the dumps; there’s a perception out there that people drink more alcoholic beverages during a recession but a slump in beer sales defies that logic. The author pays a passing mention to wine, indicating that Constellation, the world’s largest publicly traded wine producer, has said they will have to “recalibrate” sales expectations.

But have Americans gotten so into wine that even a recession can’t take wine off the table? It appears that wine sales sales for 2008 may be up fractionally by volume but the value is likely to be down since many consumers are “trading down,” or reaching for less expensive wines.

We last checked in with you about your buying habits on September 29. Lots has happened in the economy since then. Tell us how your wine buying and consumption is now! And with the new polling software, you can now select two answers!

The economy has tanked! I have changed my wine buying patterns by...

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21 Responses to “Trading down: recession and wine trends [poll]”

  1. Where’s the option to buy more beer? Considering how incredible some of today’s craft beers are, beer is bringing some serious value. Hopefully I’ll pick up another job in the wine industry soon, and I can go back to buying half wine/half beer again 🙂

  2. Mike – your wish is my commend–added!!

  3. Er, what about: doing nothing because you were already drinking as if there was a recession?? But maybe I’m the only one in that category.

  4. In our little corner of the wine world, we are seeing our customers moving up-market. In speaking with them, we find that they are shunning in-restaurant wine purchases. Instead, they are purchasing better wine at a better (than restaurant) price – and either enjoying it at home with a great meal, or paying corkage at a restaurant… and STILL saving money.

  5. I think it’s important to remember that trends are just that. They are what’s expected, we use them to give ourselves a sense of direction and action, but they can’t be taken for granted as constants. There are always new waves that occur, perhaps beer drinking has taken a new turn for this situation. Unless there’s some outside factor not being considered.

  6. Maybe it’s just because beer doesn’t give you enough buzz for the buck?

  7. Where is the category “buy less wine but more expensive” ?

    I prefer buy one bottle / week but my choice on the bottle tends to be on higher price.

  8. When you cut your average cost per bottle you can still find wines that are very good provided you do your research. The folks at have the right idea.

  9. I voted “cutting my average bottle price” personally, but this is also what we are seeing on our site (where our sales are up strongly).

    We have also noticed that people seem to be stocking up when they find a deal they like (more so than in the past).

  10. Consumer Labs test was done in 2007. A single test in 2007 is not as good as a test done for purity and safety for every batch made since then.

    You need to try RevGenetics, we simply test every batch and don’t rely on an old test done strictly for marketing.

    Why not test in 2008? or 2009? Shouldnt consumers require this kind of safety testing?


  11. you can find some great wines for 8 to 12 bucks. not as complex as maybe what you loved when you had more wine bucks, but just use a little reference, and you’ll find some true winners for your food.

  12. Recessions are tough things to trend. My industry has been largely unaffected by the recession, and it really saddens me to hear that many people’s wine budgets have been cut!

    Also, I agree with Antoine – I would by less wine of higher quality if it came down to that.

    I just hope that everyone continues to spend on wine. Remember, you’re stimulating the economy!

  13. Work in the industry for a boutique distributor, in sales in a Midwest state. See at the moment people seem to be on “hold”. Our wines are on the shelf for $15-$75 on average. I agree w/ AgentRed about the restaurant buying. People will buy a bottle (or +), enjoy at home w/ friends, then go out. So as my sales seem to be increasing, there is shift between on/off premise. It may be a sign to restaurants: If you want your customers to buy your most lucrative item, make sure they find it valuable. Consumers have a great amount of knowledge now. BE THEIR FRIEND.

  14. the wine consuming habits in our home have not changed at all but I can’t really buy wines for long term aging, something I’ve usually done come november or december each year. hopefully this will change soon so our cellar will not be cleared out in the near future!

  15. Something that can affect even more the sales of the wineries is the stocks reduction that distributors, shops and households are doing. If people have some bottles in their cellars, what they probably are doing is to drink that wine instead of buying more.

  16. I’m glad to see that the attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos aren’t forced to make these kinds of decisions. The $1700 bottles of 1971 Petrus are nearly sold out.

  17. Where is a good place I can find statistics on 2008 wine sales? Does anyone know? If so please contact me at



  18. […] around the world in the fourth quater of 2008.  Dr.Vino weighed in on the wine side of the matter with a poll that showed most of his readers are buying less expensive wines at the same or higher volume.  […]

  19. We are with the crowd… cutting back on the average price per bottle. We compromise on say an Old Vive Zin, we find a $10 to $15 bottle that is still quite good so we can still enjoy our favorites that are in a higher price range. Pinot Grigio is one we compromise on with Covey Run (good taste at $9), since we aren’t huge fans of the varietal but do use it to pair with certain dinners. Leaves us with more options for our preferred labels.


  20. One last note. Having been in the industry many years (retail wine) & still doing some stuff part time for the company I have access to category sales & data for a very large region.

    The data shows average price per item trending down for the wine category which your poll indicates.

    The stats/demographics are large enough to be statistically significant.

  21. Where do I find this data? I am tasked with background research on wine bars feasiblity during recession. Any advice or info would be greatly appreciated.


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