International versus local: what wine offers the best value for money?

Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Recent reports that some imported wines might drop in price have had fans celebrating but is it worth buying imports?

Rabobank’s most recent Wine Quarterly review reported that wines from some regions of the world are going to be more affordable this year. Generic wines from Spain and Italy are set to drop in price because of the large harvest in 2018, while wines from Argentina will be cheaper because of a devaluation of the country’s currency.

Where, you might ask, can you buy these international wines? According to Rabobank’s report, you can get a wider variety online than in shops. This does, however, come with a downside. “In addition to convenience, online wine buyers search for uniqueness: products and an experience that they can’t find in their local shop and they are prepared to pay more for it. As a result, the average price per bottle sold online is higher than in the supermarkets.”

Before you rush to buy imported wine, Wade Bales, of Wade Bales Fine Wines & Spirits, an expert in the industry, says South African premium wines are underpriced and underrated from an international perspective.

“In my opinion, the market for imported wines is very small, catering to a very specific niche of consumers who have a high interest in wine. In terms of comparing the price-quality ratio of South African versus international wines, after taking into account transport and import duty costs, South African wines unquestionably offer better value for money at all price points.”

This is despite a price increase due to the smaller harvest caused by the drought in the Western Cape over 2017 and 2018.

While local wines might offer great value, keep your eyes peeled for cheaper wines from countries such as Spain, Italy and Argentina, for variety.