Germans Spend An Average of €1.20 per Bottle of Wine

According to this article in favor of cheap wine from Slate:

Americans' … annual consumption is around one bottle per month (PDF) per capita—but perhaps they would if the industry hadn’t taught them that truly affordable wine isn’t worth drinking. The evidence is right across the Atlantic: In Europe, consumption is 3-to-6 times higher than in the United States. But only the most affluent would spend 11 euros to drink a bottle of wine at home on a Wednesday night. Europeans seem perfectly comfortable cracking open a 1-euro tetra-pak of wine for guests. Germans, for example, pay just $1.79 on average for a bottle of wine.

Not long ago, American wine-buying habits were very similar to the Germans’. In 1995, 59 percent of the wine purchased in the United States sold for less than $3 per bottle. By 2006, controlling for inflation, that share had dropped to 29 percent. Wines over $14 per bottle more than quadrupled their share of the market during the same period. Looking at raw consumption rather than market share, sales of over-$14 wine increased sevenfold. Sales of wines that cost less than $3 per bottle actually declined 28 percent, during a period when overall wine consumption was rapidly increasing.

The pretty stunning figure of $1.79 per bottle comes from the linked report here, which is a pretty interesting analysis of German wine-buying habits, although it'S from 2007. Here's the relevant passage:

Despite the increasing sales of premium quality wines, Germany still is a market with a low average price of €1.77 (US$2.38) per litre in the off-trade in 2006. This is due mainly to the fact that the discount chains, which sell more than half of the total volume, move over 77% of their portfolio at below €1.99 (US$2.68) per bottle. When looking at all trade channels other than direct sales, the category under €2 a bottle has a 74.7% market share.

Yep, it must be the discounters, all right. In their scuffed and dingy aisles, you can find cardboard cartons of wine from all over the world for 1-2€ per bottle. And if you try enough bottles, you can often find something relatively drinkable. I remember Netto had a line of €1.50 Argentine cabernet that that was not half bad. Right now, my source of cheap tipple is my man Werner März, of the Natürlich Natürlich organic food store at Brunnenstr. 32 in Düsseldorf. In addition to plenty of other organic treats, he sells Vida Feliz organic wine from Spain. The absurdly low price of €3 per liter can't be beat, and the stuff is thoroughly drinkable. Since it's organic, you never know exactly what you'll get, which I find a feature, not a bug. But it's usually a simple, ripe, fruity red. Plus, you often actually see lees at the bottom of the bottle!

7 thoughts on “Germans Spend An Average of €1.20 per Bottle of Wine

  1. We often buy (and drink!) the cheapest wine at Aldi, but we stick with bottles and I have never seen one of them for under €1.99 except at blow-out sales.
    My theory is that a lot of people in America drink wine because of its social status, not because they like it. And because of that they don’t really know what to look for, what they might like or not like, and are highly vulnerable to “expert wine advice”, out of fear of being exposed as ignorant.

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  2. Most wine under 2 Euros merely exists to get you drunk quickly. Rarely something you can enjoy.

    Not to forget, the tetra pack and other cheap wines are often used for cooking, or in winter for Gluehwein.

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  3. I really do not understand why people use cheap wine for Glühwein. I wouldn’t take really expensive wine here, but a little better quality makes a definetly better Glühwein. And I make it myself. The sugary syrup they sell as bottled Glühwein in the supermarkets is disgusting. And making it so easy.

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  4. I’m German, I am a pennyless student and I would never offer guests 1€ wine from a tetra-pak. It is like Ney says: This is the wine to get drunk quickly, not to enjoy it. “Pennerwein”, wine for the bums. But my mother and her boyfriend drink this … stuff. From expensive crystal glassware, too. Sadly, this doesn’t make the crappy wine any better. There may be exceptions, of course, but most of the cheapest wines aren’t good wines. A minimum for the cost at which a decent wine (or any other product) can be produced exists. And with cheap wine, I am always afraid of getting a dose of glycol or methanol as a free bonus.

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  5. Dear Andrew,
    no idea where your figure of 1,20 € is from, but the DWI says: 48% of all bottles in Germany are sold at dicounters. 74% are sold at supermarkets and discounter. The average price at of these 74% is 2,52 € in 2010.
    The rest (26%) is sold a other locations (wine stores or at the winery), for higher prices I suppose.

    see: http://tinyurl.com/bllevty

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  6. Are the prices mentioned in the article retail prices? If I go to the Aldi-sud website, it seems all wines are 2 euro’s and up. Maybe they are ashamed to put the cheapest stuff on their site?

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