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Is $15 a Bottle the New Normal?

Noted wine columnist Patrick Comisky reported in the LA Times on April 14 that “The sales ‘sweet spot’ for a bottle of wine has come down from $40 in 2009 to $15 or $20 today. Bargains are plentiful in wines from Spain, Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Italy. California winemakers are also delivering, and Syrah can be an especially good value.”

So are cult Cabernets finished? Comisky reports that “retail customers are spending less for a bottle of wine than they did two years ago. In 2009, we wrote in these pages that, in terms of a sales sweet spot, $25 was the new $40. If anything, that median is trending further downward in 2011. For many, $15 to $20 might be the new $25.”

Here in Virginia, our own Richard Leahy is now managing Wine Made Simple, a “new, tasteful and original wine retail store in Charlottesville” ( and on Facebook). The grand opening was last week. Wine Made Simple features 100 wines for under $20, all sorted by style descriptor. Owner Joyce Watson says the store will feature frequent tastings featuring local wineries such as Whitehall and Well Hung.