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Luxury wines: more and more success stories


Shopping for more than 253 billion euro per year for wines that cost more than 100 euro and for 12 billion for dream bottles with prices above 1000 euro

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini


During the past few years the high end wine market has increased. It has gone from 77 billion euro in 1995 to 253 billion euro in 2015 (study by Bain & Company in 2016). At the same time, the index of WS auctions showed an increase of 300% in value.

This sort of increase is worthy of the best bonds on stock exchanges and an evident preference of the richer consumers for finer wines.

Luxury Wine Marketing by Liz Thach and Peter Yeung

<<The luxury wine category contains all that is rare and with beautiful aesthetics >> explained Liz Thach, Master of Wine and professor at the Wine Business Institute di Sonoma, to Wine Searcher <<it supplies a sense of privilege and elegance>> in other words those who can buy exclusive  and expensive bottles feels privileged and this is something that become quite irresistible.

Luxury-wines-La Tache – Romanée Conti

The book Luxury Wine Marketing by Liz Thach and Peter Yeung studies in fact the desirability of a luxury wine and the elements that make it stand out. In fact, while the market proposes a growing number of extremely expensive bottles, the estate information is quite scarce.   This report starts from a database of 8500 wines with a price over $ 100 per bottle, divided per grape variety, region, type and price, and considering the vintages from 2010 to 2016. The main sources used by the authors were Wine Spectator (WS), Wine-Searcher, The Encyclopaedia of Champagne and interviews.

Why consumers buy expensive bottles

It is interesting to notice how consumers from different nations buy luxury wines for different reasons. Germans for performance; the French for le exclusivity; and the Americans for hedonism. There is also a wider search for cultural identity and the desire to increase ones personal patrimony putting into the safe valuable things. This latter motive is the most foreseeable of high end wine consumers: they try to get products of exceptional quality that will increase in value and can be resold.

What surprises are the other motivations for which the present day consumer of luxury looks for rare and expensive wines << a new interest for the environment and wines produced in a sustainable way>> explained Liz Thach, or even << a search for authentic wines bought in the place of origin and made in small series with extreme technologies>>.


Identikit of the luxury wine buyer

Here is the description of the luxury wine buyer: male, aged between 30 and 50 years of age, with a degree. Curiously those who started university without finishing are less inclined to buy expensive wines.


Division of luxury wines in price ranges

Thach and Yeung have also created a sort of division between the luxury wines, creating 4 categories:

  • affordable, with prices from $ 50 to $ 99;
  • luxury wines from $ 100 to $ 499;
  • icon wines from $ 500 to $ 999;
  • dream wines $ 1000+ area in which one finds the first 50 most expensive wines in the Wine-Searcher portal


This division has permitted to understand where the shopping of the 553 clients who were part of the sample used for the study was directed. 46% of them had spent between $ 50 and $ 99 for a bottle of wine; while only 5% had spent more than $ 1000 for one single bottle.

There is consequently a pyramid that gets narrower as the bottle prices get higher but it has a summit made up of a market of more than 12 billion Euros per year spent just for “dream wines”.


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