The Biggest Wine Shortage in 40 Years?

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Expect prices to rise, some experts predict. Don't worry, others say.

It’s enough to drive one to drink — but some wine may be in short supply.

Worldwide demand for wine last year exceeded global supply by 300 million cases, ABC News says, citing a new report from Morgan Stanley. That’s the biggest shortage in 40 years, and down from a surplus of more than 600 million cases less than a decade ago, the report claims. What happened?

For one thing, European governments paid vintners to make less. The surplus was hurting prices, so “vineyards in France, Spain and Italy were plowed under,” ABC News says. There’s also rising demand and some bad weather to blame.

“Americans drink about 12 percent of the world’s wine, and per capita consumption is booming,” USA Today says. “China, the world’s fifth largest importer, has quadrupled its consumption in the past five years.”

Experts seem to agree on that much — Europe scaling back and demand rising — but little more.

“Nobody has to worry there won’t be enough [of cheaper wines],” wine author Alice Feiring told ABC News. But prices will likely go up, and availability go down, for fine wines, she said.

Another expert suggests nearly the opposite. “Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, told KUSA-TV in Denver the shortage is most likely to affect cheaper wines,” USA Today says.

And some suggest there’s no shortage or increase in pricing on the horizon.

“We may not be having as many closeout specials as we had during the recession, but I don’t see anyone ratcheting up the prices, either,” wine buyer Mulan Chan-Randel told the San Francisco Chronicle. That newspaper also cited a separate report from the International Organization of Vine and Wine, which claims global wine production will be up 8.8 percent this year. That would be the highest level in seven years.

“Analysis of this sort is a bit of a challenge,” Stephen Rannekleiv, a wine industry analyst for Rabo Bank in New York, told the Chronicle. He said it originally seemed as though there would be a shortfall, but it didn’t happen that way. “There’s no looming shortage that we can see, barring some unforeseen shock to supply or demand.”

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