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Creating WineThe Emergence of a World Industry, 1840-1914$
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James Simpson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691136035

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691136035.001.0001

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Selling to Reluctant Drinkers: The British Market and the International Wine Trade

Selling to Reluctant Drinkers: The British Market and the International Wine Trade

(p.81) Chapter 4 Selling to Reluctant Drinkers: The British Market and the International Wine Trade
Creating Wine

James Simpson

Princeton University Press

This chapter shows that wine was traditionally a luxury because of the high and discriminatory import duties, which benefited Portuguese and Spanish producers at the expense of the French. With the reforms of the early 1860s there was a temporary increase in consumption and a switch in preference away from Iberian fortified wines toward French table wines. Merchants blended cheap commodity wines from different locations to minimize quality fluctuations, but although retail prices remained remarkably stable during the phylloxera-induced period of shortages, this was achieved only by significantly reducing product quality. Poor wines and numerous press reports concerning their adulteration led to falling consumption. The failure of buyer-driven commodity chains such as the Victoria Wine Company or Gilbeys to significantly cut marketing costs implied that the small family retailer remained competitive, but neither could simultaneously cut prices and guarantee product quality for consumers.

Keywords:   international wine trade, British wine market, wine adulteration, product quality, Victoria Wine Company, Gilbeys, marketing costs, family retailer, Britain

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