Thinking about reining in your wine budget for 2018 without sacrificing quality? Unfortunately most of Europe’s major wine regions suffered severe crop losses in 2017 due to extreme weather conditions at inopportune times during the growing season. Production levels through a large swath of prime European vineyards are 25% to 30% lower than normal signaling almost certain price increases. Pile that on top of Thailand’s egregiously high tax rates on wine reducing your wine expenditures here becomes a truly Herculean task.

That’s not the only bad news. Those relatively moderately priced 3 lt. and 5 lt. bag-in-box wines that have gone up in quality due in large part to several years of increased global production will likely see substantial price increases. Additionally, many of the BIB wines available locally are “fruit wines,” meaning they have been adulterated by the addition of fruit juices to take advantage of a tax loophole. Ever vigilant excise tax bureaucrats have tightened that loophole with a recent 20% rate increase and plan on further increases until the advantage is eliminated. Wine importers and distributors are always on the lookout for ways to cut expenses and gain additional market share. Aware of the October 2017 implementation date of the additional tax on fruit-added wine most distributors increased their stock to maintain prices for the recent holiday season. Those supplies will soon be exhausted so better buy now before the price jumps.

Cutting costs by buying wine in environmentally friendly packaging like boxed wine isn’t for everyone, quality being but one of several factors. However, as the world’s wine lovers have adapted to screwcap closures more serious attention is being paid to alternatives to the centuries old glass bottle. Weight is a big factor in shipping wine and thus the shelf price of the bottle. That well over 90% of all wine is consumed within days of purchase it makes sense that the container it’s in is merely a convenience for getting it from the point of purchase into the consumers wine glass.

For decades wine has been sold in German convenience stores in Tetra-Pak containers, much like the ubiquitous plastic coated cardboard milk or juice containers sold here. Not only is there savings in shipping and storage but environmentally they are produced with a much lower carbon footprint, that is carbon emissions during production. Andrew Jefford, a key wine writer for Decanter Magazine wrote an interesting article in their January issue with photos of some innovative plastic wine bottles that’s well worth reading;

Innovative as well as practical thinking about everyday consumer habits is not only economical but environmentally essential. Chokdee!

Written by: R. James Mullen