On luxury wine

A luxury wine (as opposed to a great but expensive wine) exists based on scarcity and social proof.

It has to be scarce, because the rules of supply and demand not only keep the proposed value sky high, but actually increases the eventual cost of holding a bottle of your own. A luxury wine cannot be easy to buy and it should be rarely seen by most human’s eyes.

It also needs social proof, because that is how the owner of a luxury bottle needs to present it to the world to justify the price they paid for it. It needs people that oooh and aaaah and ask if they can touch it, and gawk about how they will never taste it. It needs 1000 points from all the main critics. It needs to be behind lock and key in the finest wine shops and on the top wine lists of the top restaurants of the world (the ultimate social proof to the owners of the luxury brands).

What’s interesting about the luxury wine market is when a brand is caught in the middle, or not quite luxury. When a brand needs to be expensive (due to the winemaker they hired, the estate they bought at the top of the market, the new barrels they use every year) but they are not quite luxury (they haven’t developed the social proof but they desperately seek it at every turn).

Discounted luxury goods don’t exist. Either you’re part of the elite club, or you’re not.

And if the brand that desperately wants to be a luxury wine doesn’t quite make it, then you’re left with something very different: overpriced fermented grape juice.

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