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What The Market Says
Wine Prices, Point Scores and Retailing
Thursday, 2nd August, 2007  - David Farmer

If you buy an aspirational wine brand such as Chateau Latour or Chateau Petrus you accept that the very high price bears only a passing relationship to the wine quality, as good as that may be. When money is no object only the most coveted labels will do. We have discussed the issue of quality and the relationship to price a number of times, most recently at Ah! To Make a Wine with Aspirational Status - The linkage is indeed a mysterious one.

The rest of us are very focussed on the price. We all love a bargain and have been trained by retailers to react to the word, SALE, so we often wait until the item of desire is marked down. With a great number of products this is good business. The quality of for example ‘white goods’ or electronics is a known factor and the only measure of shopping success is the price paid.

When the quality of the item is much more subjective such as with art and indeed wine it is much easier for the seller to manipulate the sale and for the customer to be fooled. For wine this is no great loss as the product bought is mostly of minor value. You win some you lose some.

For as long as I have been selling wine, customers have been strongly influenced by the price and rightly buy a lot more when their favourite is marked down. It also helps to promote sales by quoting the opinion of an authority or the retailer may offer one or emphasise the show medals the wine may have won. These opinions about wine quality can be summarising as a number often out of twenty or more commonly now out of 100, and is a very powerful way of imparting information quickly. How much you should be influenced by these numbers is another favourite Glug topic.

To create a price saving a retailer may refer to the previous price at which they sold the wine; or they may quote a saving off the ‘recommended retail price’ which is a notional selling price suggested by many wholesalers. The recommended price or RRP is the price you may pay in a pub bottle shop when you duck into buy a single bottle or perhaps the price in the local near your holiday resort.

What influences the wine buying public is then a balance between prices and third party endorsements and as mentioned these are often expressed as a point score representing quality. Here is how some of our retailers approach their advertising-marketing. It is full of interesting differences.

Liquorland, BWS, Woolworths Liquor

Big retailers such as Coles and Woolworths are very sensitive to quoting savings that they cannot substantiate and never relate a saving back to the price the supplier suggested it was worth, the so called RRP. Thus they will only show a saving off the last price at which they sold the product. This is a very fair way of not misleading the consumer. As these savings are quite low they resort to discount sales, such as 20% of wine, or a discount if you buy six bottles, or gimmicks such as buy any two for this much. Currently they do not use endorsements such as wine scores.

Big Box Stores - Dan Murphy, 1st Choice

The two ‘big-box’ operators Dan Murphy (Woolworths) and 1st Choice (Coles) both state they will match any advertised price. Not being able to quote savings from previous prices or the RRP they use the clever method that they are always cheaper than anyone else. This was pioneered by Dan Murphy over 20 years ago and the slogan, ‘No body beats Dan Murphy’ is justly famous. Anther slogan they regularly repeat is ‘You would be mad buying liquor elsewhere’. The effectiveness of these slogans has not yet dawned upon 1st Choice who are having great difficulty working out how to market and run big-box liquor stores. Neither chain uses wine reviews or wine scores very often. Mostly they adhere to a cheap every day price policy.

Vintage Cellars

Vintage Cellars is an upmarket wine specialist with about 100 stores that is owned by Coles. As such they are very careful about the savings shown. They may use wine writer comments and wine scores though currently this is only done infrequently. A major point of difference has been to emphasise members Cellar Shares that accumulate as you purchase, though currently this is also down-played.


This single shop and large mail house makes extensive use of the RRP to create savings. The interesting own brand ‘Hidden Label’ concept creates savings by a reference back to what the wine would sell for under the makers own label. The purchaser must trust that this is correct. They also use wine writer endorsements, wine scores and medals won, extensively. In their monthly bulletin almost all the wines on sale score greater than 90/100 and these scores are taken from wine writers or are the scores of their own judging panel.

The Wine Society Cooperative

They make strong use of member benefits and the cooperative nature of the society. They emphasize savings which are calculated off the RRP price. At times will use a wine writer endorsement but are more likely to post a staff tasting note or a tasting note made by one of the wine tasting panel who oversee all wine purchases. Interestingly they use the point scores of wines only occasionally.


One of the most interesting wine selling models developed as it largely involves selling products that they make or are made for them under brands they own. This cleverly removes them from having prices that can be compared to other retailers.

Get Wines Direct

Over the last year or so very strong advertisements have been placed in The Australian by the Melbourne wine retailer Get Wines Direct that show high price savings often with good wine scores on numerous wines. They offer a welcome change to the steady diet of boring wine advertisements that do little to induce customers to purchase. Plus many of the wines on offer are real bargains and show what a poor job their competitors are doing in finding similar wines for their customers. Their novel answer to creating the saving is to refer to them as Don’t Pay $X, Our Price $Y. Don’t pay this price can presumably be any price they set. With that said in most cases the Don’t Pay prices seem to relate to the RRP although on some wines it does seemed to be stretched. And some wines bound for export have no price from which you can discount.

We would urge consumers to be a bit more wary than they are about so called savings as the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ about sums it up. It is not too hard to manipulate a saving. As for being influenced by point scores as an easy reference to wine quality we also suggest caution. This currency has also been devalued as most wines I now see reviewed leave me breathless with their scores.

If you do not find this advice very helpful at least you can take comfort wondering about those buyers of ‘aspirational’ fine wine for whom the highest price and the rarest label is all that makes them happy.

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Monday, 11th February, 2013

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Tuesday, 11th December, 2012

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Wednesday, 31st October, 2012

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Friday, 15th June, 2012

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Sunday, 18th December, 2011

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Sunday, 20th November, 2011

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Sunday, 20th November, 2011

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Tuesday, 8th November, 2011

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Tuesday, 16th August, 2011

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Tuesday, 12th July, 2011

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Monday, 21st March, 2011

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Monday, 14th March, 2011

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Monday, 21st February, 2011

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Friday, 11th June 2010

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Friday, 28th May, 2010

Grange Spin from Peter Gago

Friday, 21st May, 2010

What are Wines Worth and Pointing Wines

Friday, 26th February, 2010

Killing the Champagne Brand

Tuesday, 9th February, 2010

Champagnes - the New Leaders at Harrods

Friday, 5th February, 2010

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Wednesday, 27th January, 2010

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Thursday, 8th October, 2009

The Strange Case of Wolf Blass Verae

Thursday, 24th September, 2009

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Thursday, 13th August, 2009

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Saturday, 1st August, 2009

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Saturday, 11th July, 2009

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Monday, 6th April, 2008

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Tuesday, 10th March, 2008

Awash In a Sea of Savee

Monday, 28th November, 2008

53 Million Cases to Many

Wednesday, 19th November, 2008

More on Grays On-Line

Wednesday, 19th November, 2008

The Origin of the Fosters Multi Beverage Strategy

Sunday, 9th November, 2008

Bargains or Not on Grays Online

Sunday, 19th October, 2008

Is It The End of Nine Glorious Years?

Monday, 13th October, 2008

Will Virtual Wine Companies Work?

Sunday, 31st August, 2008

A Story about Mixing Wine and Beer

Sunday, 17th August, 2008

The Changing Tastes of Wine Drinkers

Sunday, 17th August, 2008

The Really Bad News About Sliding Exports

Wednesday, 13th August, 2008

Wine Facts, Trends, Fads and Hope

Tuesday, 20th May, 2008

The Steady Decline of Tier One Wine Companies

Friday, 9th May, 2008

Is It All Too Hard at Fosters?

Sunday, 24th February, 2008

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Tuesday, 19th February, 2008

Thank Goodness for Aldi

Monday, 11th February, 2008

A Pleasant Day Online at Grays Auctions

Friday, 3rd August, 2007

Wine Prices, Point Scores and Retailing

Thursday, 2nd August, 2007

A Useful Marketing Lesson

Thursday, 26th July, 2007

The Dan Murphy View of Cleanskins

Tuesday, 17th July, 2007

Wine Slabs for Queen Adelaide

Tuesday, 10th July, 2007

Cheers I Hope You Enjoy the Blue Nun

Monday, 14th May, 2007

Sauvignon Blanc Sweeps All Before It

Saturday, 12th May, 2007

They Do Things Differently in Tasmania

Friday, 11th May, 2007

New Zealand Grab the Number One Spot

Sunday, 6th May, 2007

Woolworths Keeps Hammering Away

Tuesday, 24th April, 2007

The Liquor Retailer Who Forgot How to Retail - Coles Liquorland

Sunday, 22nd April, 2007

Conversations with a Sydney Liquor Merchant

Thursday, 12th April, 2007

Woolworths Charges Ahead

Sunday, 8th April, 2007

Do You Recall Recommended Retail Prices?

Sunday, 8th April, 2007

Cleanskin Shopping at Dan Murphy

Friday, 30th March, 2007

Fosters - the Incredible Shrinking Wine Company

Tuesday, 27th March, 2007

Please, Please We Need More Competition

Monday, 19th March, 2007

The Slow Death of a Great Brand - Penfolds

Thursday, 15th March, 2007

What Do Fosters and Coles Have in Common?

Tuesday, 8th March, 2007

News on the 2007 Vintage

Tuesday, 6th March, 2007

Dan Strikes Again

Friday, 23rd February, 2007

Liquorland - The Future of Retailing

Tuesday, 30th January, 2006

Australia's Top 100 Wines

Thursday, 7th December, 2006

The Return of the Price Fighting Vortex

Sunday, 3rd December, 2006

Ah! To Make a Wine with Aspirational Status

Tuesday, 28th November, 2006

The Unusual Marketing at Brown Bros

Tuesday, 7th November, 2006

English Speakers Embrace Wine

Tuesday, 17th October, 2006

What Comes After Barossa Pearl and Ben Ean?

Monday, 18th September, 2006

High Alcohols and Bad Press About Australian Wine

Thursday, 14th September, 2006

Crown Lager Crashes the Wine Weekend

Tuesday, 29th August, 2006

Rosemount Slides Away

Wednesday, 23rd August, 2006

Wiping Your Hands and Ducking for Cover

Tuesday, 15th August, 2006

Talking with English Wine Merchant, Noel Young

Friday, 11th August, 2006

The Sky Darkens for Roséphobes

Wednesday, 9th August, 2006

Doing Hand Stands at the Dorchester

Tuesday, 1st August, 2006

How Does $5000 a Bottle Sound for Ch. Petrus 2005

Tuesday, 25th July, 2006

We Did It Because We Could

Monday, 24th July, 2006

Wine Prices and Millionaires

Thursday, 22nd June, 2006

Why Are Cleanskins So Popular?

Friday, 26th May, 2006

Rosé Raises Its Ugly Head

Wednesday, 24th May, 2006

The Release of the 2001 Grange and Old Memories

Thursday, 11th May, 2006

A Retailer With a Sense of Humour

Monday, 17th April, 2006

What About the Steak Knives?

Monday, 10th April, 2006

Little Penguin Joins Yellow Tail in Top Ten

Friday, 7th April, 2006

Grange Over Priced Says Auctioneer

Tuesday, 21st March, 2006

White Drinkers Move Up While Clean Skins Take Red Drinkers Down

Wednesday, 8th March, 2006

Woolies Keeps Growing While Coles Plays Catch Up

Wednesday, 8th March, 2006

Gobbledegook from Coles

Tuesday, 21st February, 2006

Great Vintages Growing on Trees

Tuesday, 31st January, 2006

An Insight Into Clean Skins

Tuesday, 31st January, 2006

Retail Concentration Continues

Friday, 16th December, 2005

Big Box Number Seven

Thursday, 15th December, 2005

Fine Wine Price Slump Predicted

Sunday, 9th December, 2005


Tuesday, 6th December, 2005

'Two for' and '20% Off for Six' - Retailers Follow the Changing Leader

Wednesday, 30th November, 2005

Coles Performs Predictably Poorly

Friday, 11th November, 2005

The Chasm Between Woolworths Liquor and Coles Liquor Will Create Problems

Thursday, 3rd November, 2005

And the Strong Get Stronger

Thursday, 27th October, 2005

And No Wonder - The $2.99 Wine Bottle is Back

Thursday, 27th October, 2005

The Clean Skin Surge Continues

Thursday, 27th October, 2005

Could it be True - Rosé is Rising?

Thursday, 13th October, 2005

Bargain Priced, Well Made French Wines

Monday, 22nd August, 2005

A Taste of Cleanskins from Dan Murphy

Thursday, 18th August, 2005

Winestate Recomends Orlando Jacobs Creek Reserve Shiraz

Wednesday, 17th August, 2005

The Price Vortex Gathers Speed

Wednesday, 3rd August, 2005 [Sydney]

Woolworths Quietly Rebadge First Estate to BWS

Saturday, 30th July, 2005

It’s All Happening at the Dee Why Hotel, the Northern Beaches, Sydney

Sunday, 24th July, 2005

Some Thoughts for Ms. Lucas - Liquor Retailing in Australia

Sunday, 24th July, 2005

The Price Fighting Varietals and the Spiralling Price Vortex

Sunday, 24th July, 2005

What Does the Tussle Between Woolworths and ColesMyer in Liquor Mean For Wine Consumers?

Thursday, 16th June, 2005

Wynns Cabernet for $16.99 and Thoughts on Clean Skins

Friday, 13th May, 2005

High End Wines Catch a Cold

Saturday, 16th April, 2005

The Release of the Penfolds 2002 Bin Reds plus a Great Riesling

Monday, 28th February, 2005

A Good Cheap French Champagne

Friday, 28th January, 2005

One of the Best Buys in Red

Wednesday, 21st November, 2004

The Good Times Are With Us

Wednesday, 17th November, 2004

Glug visits the Adelaide Wine Show

Friday, 8th October, 2004

Shopping at Liquorland

Friday, 1 October, 2004

A Great Kiwi, A Great Italian And More 2002 Reds

Wednesday, 29th September, 2004

The Barossa Wine Show, September, 2004

Monday, 25th September, 2004

A Quick Trip to Dan Murphy's

Friday, 24th September, 2004

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