The Race to the Bottom

One unfortunate consequence of the current economic crisis is the overdependence on price cutting in order to sell.  I think that many wineries were caught off-balance when the crisis struck in 2008 and, not having put a positioning strategy in place, have been forced to rely on increasing discounts to customers.

It may sound strange, but the loser is the consumer.

My wife and I spend most of our weekends near Santander on the north coast, about two hours north of Rioja, and enjoy having a few glasses of wine before lunch on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays with our friends.  Both of the bars we frequent, within walking distance of our house, have the annoying habit of changing wine brands every month or so and each new brand is worse than its predecessor, apparently because the bar gets a better deal.  The prices to consumers don’t change, however.  We’ve offered to find better wines for the bars and are willing to pay more for them but the owners stubbornly resist, thinking that we will keep drinking the garbage offered to us.

Last Saturday was the last straw.  We were offered glasses of a white wine (from a region other than Rioja) that was totally undrinkable.  It was from a well-recognized denomination of origin but I wonder how it was ever given the seal of approval to be called as such.

I don’t like to sermonize, but can’t help but wonder when this is going to stop.  Today you can buy whites from this D.O. for one euro a bottle (and unaged Rioja for not much more).  The foreseeable consequences of this short-sighted policy are driving more consumers away from wine toward drinks with more consistent quality such as beer and more bankrupt wineries.

We’ve decided to take matters into our own hands and drive a couple of miles down to the village for our pre-lunch ritual rather than drink near where we live. We’d rather pay more for wine we enjoy than drink bad wine for the sake of saving a little on each round.

I hope the bars near our house get the message.



1 thought on “The Race to the Bottom

  1. I agree with you 100%.We belong to 5 or 6 wine clubs. We would rather drink at each other’s houses and enjoy what we drink at a reasonable price. Sometimes we avoid bars/restaurants because of their selection.
    Do you think your boycott will have an impact?

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