Wine is cheaper, and it can often taste better, according to a new study.
The study, published in the Journal of Wine Economics, said the cost of wine is so low that consumers are willing to pay a premium to enjoy it.
The research by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University at Buffalo found that consumers paid about three times as much for wine compared with wine made from a comparable bottle of sparkling water.
The average price of a bottle of premium wine rose by more than $10 in recent years to $7.25, while the average price for a bottle from a lower-priced producer rose by $3 to $4.25.
“The findings suggest that consumers may be willing to overlook the price premium to the point where it’s even lower than the wine they consume,” said co-author Brian Meehan, an assistant professor of economics at the university.
The researchers, from the UW’s College of Business, used the National Institute for Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) National Consumer Price Index, which is based on data from a variety of retailers.
They found that the average wine price in the United States in 2018 was $5.28, up from $5 in 2017.
That increase came as the country saw record drought conditions and soaring prices.
The cost of producing and marketing wine has risen in recent decades, but it’s not as steep as other premium beverages such as whiskey or spirits.
That’s because the ingredients are usually cheaper than the alcohol content, Mee, a former UW professor, said.
The NIFA data is a more reliable indicator of how expensive wine is, he said.
But, the researchers said, there are plenty of factors besides price that influence consumers’ tastes and willingness to pay more for wine.
Some consumers also buy less wine because they are less sensitive to alcohol, Mees said.
“People are much more aware of the health effects of drinking wine, and they may be able to drink more if they can afford to,” he said in a phone interview.
The price increases in 2017 and 2018 “were very large,” Mee said.
But in a survey conducted last year by the American Beverage Association, nearly half of respondents said they would pay more if it were possible to drink their own wine.
The costs of wine vary by region.
In California, the average cost of a year-round bottle of wine was $13.60, and for a four-pack of 12-ounce bottles, it was $28.10.
In New York City, the price was $18.30.
In New York, the cost rose to $28 in 2018 from $21 in 2017, but the price remained relatively flat over the next four years.
In 2017, the annual cost of an ounce of wine in New York rose by about 20 percent.
But Mee and his colleagues found that prices for a three-year bottle of champagne fell by roughly $7 in 2018 and by about $4 in 2019.
The cost of six-month-old bottles of sparkling wine rose slightly to $24.80, but by 2020 it had risen to $31.40.