Liquid Culture: High-End Lows
While mixology was by and large on the uptick, wine felt the pinch of the recession a bit more. Early 2009 saw a drop in big ticket wine labels, so much so that sommeliers and beverage managers could snap up wines that they couldn’t have afforded before, or perhaps even stockpile those wines. And restaurants shared their wine bargain fortunes by expanding their wines-by-the-glass options to include such pricey wines. Our wine consumption survey showed that restaurants were expanding their by-the-glass options in response to consumer demand for more lower-priced glasses and lack of enthusiasm for full-priced bottles.
Additional growth was seen in the high-quality/good value wine market: $40 bottles of wine were flying off the shelves, while $70 and up bottles stayed grounded. The search for value led sommeliers further into unknown and underappreciated territory, like Lebanon, Uruguay, Canada, and Brasil. However, Champagne fell thoroughly out of vogue, as predicted and expected—it simply wasn’t a good year for bubbly, but other, less expensive sparkling wines, like Lambrusco and Cava, picked up a bit.