$20 and Under – October 2021

Many Kiwis won’t spend more than $15 on a bottle of wine, except on special occasions. I doubt their ranks include many winegrowers or members of the Buyer’s Guide website, but is wine getting cheaper or more expensive in New Zealand?

Dr Nicki Jackson, executive director of Alcohol Healthwatch, argues that wine prices have not kept pace with inflation. “The real price of wine is 30 per cent lower today than it was in 1988. This is reflected in supermarket prices where bottles of wine can now be purchased for $5.99.”

Three years ago, I looked into the issue. A basket of goods and services that in 2008 would have cost $100, would by 2018 have set you back about $117, according to the Reserve Bank’s inflation calculator. So had wine prices risen similarly?

To find out, I looked at six, mid-priced wines from long-established, mostly family-owned wineries – Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Brookfields Bergman Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay, Hunter’s Marlborough Riesling, Mission Hawke’s Bay Merlot, Saint Clair Marlborough Pinot Gris and Seifried Nelson Gewürztraminer. In 2008, this collection would have cost you $118. A decade later, half the wines had not altered their prices; the others had each risen or fallen by no more than three dollars; and their total price was identical – $118.

According to Wine Intelligence, a UK-based specialist in wine consumer research, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, most wine markets around the world “experienced an immediate and significant drop in per bottle spend on wine”. An NZTE-commissioned study into Covid-19 also found that in most countries, there is an expectation that consumers will drink less high quality wine in the future.


Best Buys

Durvillea Marlborough Chardonnay 2020, 4 stars, $20

Haha Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2020, 3.5 stars, $18

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2020, 4 stars, $18