Saturday, February 14, 2009

The frugal couple considers wine, part 2

So, I'm asking myself, can I do the Lenten Experiment and still buy wine?
  • Maybe, since really poor people--even in America, even with food stamps--can't afford wine, I shouldn't buy any either.
  • Maybe I should allow myself to buy some wine if I can manage to include it in the $6/day per person food budget (and still eat a balanced diet, of course).
  • Maybe this experiment is about food, not wine--it's not about housing or clothing or medical care either, and I'm not cutting back on any of those--and I should buy wine if I feel like it.
A British friend commented, "At least we with more disposable income can buy fairly traded wine to give a better deal for the growers." A great idea, especially in Europe where a selection of such wines has been available in many supermarkets for at least five years.

It's considerably harder to do in the U.S., though the headline of a recent story in the Boston Herald proclaimed: Fair Trade Wine Now Available in US Stores. The stores in question are Whole Foods, Publix, Target, and Sam's Clubs, and each chain is said to carry one or two fair-trade wines. When I searched the wine racks at the local Whole Foods this afternoon, however, I didn't find any.

Why does wine need to be fairly traded, Mr Neff asked. Aren't California growers treating their staff kindly?

Probably "fair trade" doesn't apply to domestic wines: the label is usually applied to wines coming from South Africa, Chile, and Argentina. According to the Boston Herald article,
A Fair Trade Certified product means TransFair has determined that farmers got fair prices, workers got decent wages and the product was produced in an environmentally responsible manner.

Importers and retailers pay a premium - the wine premium is 10 cents per bottle - that is earmarked for community improvement, such as a new water system or educational scholarships.

Fair trade wine generally costs between $10 and $12 a bottle, a bit steep for the thrifty food plan. But noble.

I'm thinking I'll probably buy some wine during Lent, maybe for Sundays or for when we have guests. Potential guests, be warned: it will be inexpensive. I hope you'll enjoy it anyway. I've polled some knowledgeable friends and now have a short list of pretty good wines for $5.99 or less. I'll post the list soon. I'd welcome your recommendations!


Heidi said...

People on food stamps do by wine. The practice is generally to buy someone else's groceries in exchange for liquor. I believe Mad Dog 20/20 and Night Train are popular choices. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

How fun that my comment spurred you to this post. The more we can promote fairly traded goods, the better. Over here in the UK, the 'fair trade fortnight' starts in a week time.

BTW, I guess I'm British now that I have dual citizenship, but I would claim my Yankee status more readily. :)
Amy Boucher Pye