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Human Cost of Wine


For me it was an interesting way of looking at my own consumption, which I will use in the future.


Yeah I found it interesting too. I track it more in terms of % of discretionary income (post household bills / necessities etc)


What is the value in knowing that a millionaire has to work for an hour to buy his Le Pin and someone else has to work for an hour to afford his £20 Cru Bourgeois?


You obviously have an issue with this conversation, so why not just stop participating?


Well, that wasn’t the question asked, which was how much of your time would you spend on a bottle of wine? That was the point of phrasing it this way - to avoid asking how much people spend, or how much they earn. I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear though most people seem to have understood well enough.

I’ve read all the replies and I don’t know who is buying Le Pin, or who is a millionaire. What I’ve found out is that most respondents are willing to devote 1 or 2 hours of their labour to a bottle of wine, and personally I found that quite interesting. Does this information have any further value? Probably not, in which case there’s no need to read it.


I felt a bit shifty with deviating so far from the norm. But I was young and in love and had no regular outgoings. Anyway why not. I also bought nineteenth century madeira for £120 and I am so glad I did.

Now though it is more around the 2 hour mark, top end. Usually about 1/2 to 1 hour.


I find it a very interesting question. I started a business some 14 years ago during a very poor economic period (three years before 2008!) and it has been quite a struggle to get up to a decent living wage. I did finally achieve a moderately good wage (higher than the national average) three years ago which was when I really started getting serious about my wine buying. However it’s still not brilliant (I’m certainly not putting down a deposit on a Ferrari!!!) but on the other hand I am an old confirmed bachelor so I have no dependants to consider which gives me quite a free hand. Therefore I was intrigued to see where I stood on this. I have quite a large difference between my average and peak bottle spends. The average is a little over 1 hour and the peak is around 3 hours with very occasional forays into 4 hour territory.

And what’s very reassuring about all that is that I find myself very content with those figures! :smiley:

Note that is based on my gross pre tax earnings.


Calculating how many hours I am prepared to work for my wine, I confirmed what I had long suspected - I work longer for EP. Deferring the full cost means I break my vague rule of not working more than an hour for a bottle (as Mike pre-tax) and will sweat it out for another half hour.


I find this quite interesting. Much of the answers - and my own - sit around the 1hr mark for a good bottle. We could tentatively conclude that regardless of your earnings, this might be the time (or cost w.r.t own earnings) many people are prepared to pay. It’s a good way of comparing the millionaire to the low-income - if it turns out both have a similar perception of value of a bottle of wine (c. 1hr of their labour). You also see where the special bottles lie - a £200 bottle is a more ‘special bottle’ to someone working 20 hours to buy it than someone working 1 hour; we might all say that anything more than 4 or 5 hours-work is a ‘special bottle’ regardless of the actual £ amount that translates to. Interesting way of looking at it - thanks, @Andy999.


Rivetting stuff! Ergo…if one is on a pension, one works no hours for any bottle? Or have I missed something here?


It’s going to be that much harder to calculate because I wouldn’t imagine you can apply a time metric to pension quite so easily.

Probably worth pointing out that Andy did make allowance for this in the original post.


pension per week / 35 to give £ per hour would be a very easy metric


Well in 1994 I was gifted membership of the wine society and bought a case of en premier port 1992 at at about 1.9 hours per bottle for my salary at that time. Just bought same en premier port for 2017 and on my salary today it’s about 2.3 hours. Only bought 1/2 bottles due to cost and thoughts that the port would out live me. Still have 3 bottles of 1992 left. An average price on wine search website for 1992 indicates I need 2.25 hours per bottle on current salary. Hourly rate and wine rate both with tax added so it reflects impact on me now and 25 years ago. With some 1997, 2009 and 2016 and a drop in expected hourly rate on a pension I think that is my last EP port purchase as the two will fairly rapidly diverge. hopefully a good 20 years of Christmas cheese and port sorted when I retire.


The problem with that question i have no idea what i was paid per hour. The other problem is that the longer you are retired the more irrelevant whatever you were paid when you were working becomes.
I tend to spend £100-130 for 12 bottles. I have spent £13-16 on one bottle that is an exception. I recently spent £38 on a bottle of port. I probably wont do that again until next christmas.


What you are describing @BENEDICTNASH is typical spending that most wine purchasers outlay for day to day wines. As I said earlier, the whole question is questionable and means nothing. You could apply the same nonsense to food shopping. If you buy your food in M&S compared to Lidl, the comparison £ per hour is irrelevant.


Is there a community view on Jeroboams? I have been looking longingly at the Bollinger but it would seriously skew my top end wine/hour (wph? that could work as a concept). Am I allowed to count it as 4 bottles, or is it just one?


I dont think that is so . When I was buying wine at the supermaket I would purchase 6 bottles with a maximun price of £8 a bottle. In 2017 there was an article in the Independent on the low prices people spend on wine. I do wonder if there is a puritanical streek in manypeoples wine buying. We should not spend too much on wine because it would be extravegant to do so. I have noticed some rich people behaving the same way. But maybe thats how they became rich . I have met people who never buy wine because people keep on giving them bottles.


There are two quotes I picked out from that article:

When it comes to wines costing upwards of £30 a bottle, Price says you’re paying for the chateau and taste.

(my highlight) Well Duh!! Of course taste is exactly why I might pay more for a good wine. Why else?


Last year, top food critic Jay Rayner made headlines by recommending people always order the cheapest wines when dining out because restaurants hike the prices up so much, and you should just enjoy higher quality wines at home.

I confess, this is pretty much what I do. Maybe not the very cheapest but I certainly don’t drink wine in restaurants at anything like the quality I drink at home, purely because of price.

In general though I agree that wines around the £10-£15 mark frequently/usually give the best value for money.


Yes, I was a bit struck by the “chateau and taste” and thought it was a bit odd. I wondered if it might mean taste as in fashion, but if so it’s not very well considered. Just seems rather a strange thing to write.


An interesting question but as others have suggested, difficult to calculate.
I believe that I fall around the 2 hours rate for UK purchases and 1 hour rate for continental Europe purchases, the difference not being quality so much as duty and VAT rates.

Mention of EP purchases moves me to a comment. I feel my EP purchases are at the top end and with hindsight aren’t worth it. By the time I’ve added in duty, VAT and a year or two’s storage, I’m paying significantly more than I would for a then available dpd wine. I’m planning to reduce or stop future EP purchases and just buy what I want when I want.