Supply, Demand, Wine & Magnets
There’s a wine story out there today that seems to have found its way into the sections of newspapers other than "FOOD". Michelle Locke, the find reporter for AP that has the wine beat writes about some sort of magnet devise that supposedly softens up the tannins in wine through some form of…well…somehow.
While interesting, it’s not very consequential. What’s really interesting is the quote that comes out of the story from Peter Farrell, a "master of wine" and the inventor of the magnet wine gadget. Farrel is quoted as saying in regard to the extent of the gadget’s powers:
"You can turn Two Buck Chuck into Five or Six Buck Chuck, but not Twelve Buck Chuck."
Usually, when "Two Buck Chuck" is referred to it’s references to just how cheap the wine is. In this case however, we have a Master of Wine using Two Buck Chuck to suggest that price and quality have a near mathematical relationship when it comes to wine. Mr. Farrell is also suggesting that "Two Buck Chuck" is just about the worst wine out there.
Now, I’ve tasted Two Buck Chuck, the $2.99 bottle of wine with a "California" appellation and that is sold exclusively at Trader Joe’s. It is hardly the worst wine out there. I’m not so concerned that Farrell makes this inference (though Trader Joe’s and Fred Franzia might be). What irks me is the notion that price and quality are intimately related on what appears to be a fairly linear scale, according to Farrell.
This is a big topic that goes to issues of subjectivity, supply and demand and the often strange influences on the retail wine market. And perhaps these issues ought to be revisited at some point.
My point here is a simple one: It’s a bit irresponsible for anyone, let alone a "master of wine" who has a wine improvement product to sell, to suggest that quality is intimately linked to price when it comes to wine. It would be far more accurate to say that the price of a wine is related to its demand, relative to its supply.