Wine and dine during the recession

A month ago I was at a wine trade show at 801 Chop House and talked to a number of people in the industry. At first I thought they were all crazy: Everyone mentioned that they were selling more bottles than they ever had. Then they’d mention how sales were off this year. It took a distributor from New Zealand to put two and two together: Everyone was buying more but cheaper wine. A lot cheaper. While the old sweet zone was $50, the new one, he told me, was $25 to $40 with an emphasis on $25.

Statistics are backing up what the wine distributors have known for the past six months. Wine has never been more popular. Or cheaper. USA Today has an article touching on all facets of the recession, noting that the total number of gallons of wine sold has risen two percent this year even though the value of those gallons fell from 2007 numbers.

Looking at the numbers closely at The Wine Institute’s Web site, the higher number of gallons sold hides the fact that restaurants are on track to sell 10 percent fewer bottles this year. Grocery stores are making up for the drop, selling five percent more bottles.

The same applies for comfort foods — restaurants sales down, grocery-store sales slightly up. Hershey’s, Kraft and Spam-makers Hormel are doing well right now. Upper-end chains not so much.

Even restaurants that are supposedly beating the recession really aren’t doing great.

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink