Are People Who Pay $2000 for a Bottle of Napa Cabernet Crazy About the Wine, or Just Crazy?

Wineries are playing elaborate mind games, and winning.

You've got your delicious wines and your really, really, really delicious wines—and obviously, not everyone has the same palate. One person's perfect bottle of red wine is another person's overripe fruit bomb. But how many really-really-reallys does a wine need to earn before you're willing to pay $2000 a bottle for it? Because one thing that isn't subjective is the price tag. If you're desperate to get your hands on the newly released Napa Cabernet from a cult winery like Screaming Eagle, you're going to pay $2746 a bottle, according to Food Republic. 

Harlan's just-released 2012 Cab? That will set you back $1072 a bottle. That's if you can even access the wines at all, which you probably can't because they're in extremely limited production; and the wineries have long waiting lists; and all the cases have already been allocated to people who are much better connected. Plus, you can't even buy the wines by the bottle in the first place.

With the recent releases of several of the big Napa cult wineries' limited-production wines, Food Republic takes a look at why people are willing to pay that much for wine. Is it because they're just crazy about the way it tastes? While that might be part of the reason, those wines tend to fetch sky-high prices in part because they age especially well, so you're investing in the long-term potential of the wine to be extraordinarily tasty when you open it in three or four decades—or at the very least, super-impressive to your dinner guests. But that's only part of the story: Buyers often flip the cases once they get their hands on them, and resell them at much higher prices, transforming wine "from beverage to currency," as the San Francisco Chronicle puts it. And that brings up perhaps the main reason why certain people will pay so much: because being on the list at a cult winery like Harlan or Screaming Eagle is a privilege that can reap rewards far beyond what the wine itself offers. 

But that status is in question, now that fewer high-end restaurants even bother to stock these wines anymore since the prices are so outrageous. Plus, status on the level those wines have reached, coupled with skyrocketing price tags, invariably invites a backlash. Nowadays, as the SF Chronicle suggests, cult wineries might be limiting production not just to ensure a higher-quality, more rarified wine, but to keep status-seekers thirsty for a liquid so hard to get, they'll go to any lengths to find it.

 

 

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