Wine has been traded since before the days of the Roman empire. Rome in particular, established a vast trading network with surrounding places such as Britain, Spain, France, the Middle East, and North Africa. Rome imported items such as wool, tin, glass, silks, and dyes, in exchange for Roman goods, which included wine.This trading network, including the exchange of wine, was vital for the success of the Roman empire, in fact when the Roman empire collapsed, so did the trade system, and the Mediterranean waterways became dangerous places for merchants, due to unpoliced piracy.
It is currently thought that the Nile Delta was the first major centre for early wine trade. Some historians believe that this early trade model is the foundation of modern economy. Ships and land vessels would carry wine hundreds and thousands of kilometres to other parts of the Mediterranean. This also influenced other empires, such as the Babylonians, who around this time establishes rules around small trade of wine, in the form of shops.
During medieval times, wine trade was crucial to the Christian church and Monasteries. The production and trade of wine provided needed finance for political and military dominance. The Cistercian Monastery in the Rheingau area, became the most important and biggest producer of wine in Europe during the 12’th and 13’th centuries, having up to 200 outlets for trade.
Although wine making in France is now larger in size, than in the 14’th Century, the wine making area in Germany is three times smaller now, than is was back then. Whole shipments dedicated to this trade, called “The Wine Fleet”, were crossing between English, French, and German ports by the hundreds. In other flourishing parts of Europe, such as Italy, wine producers first began to garner respect in the area of wine making, and some of these families are still some of the most highly respected names in wine making today. These Italian families traded in wines from Tuscany, Bordeaux, Spain, and Portugal.
Although California and other new world wine regions, including New Zealand, thrive in today’s markets, it was initially tough going for new world wine regions breaking into the already thriving market, due to scrutiny and prejudice from old world wine regions. Help came in the form of Phylloxera, which wiped out huge portions of European wine regions, providing the US an opportunity to fill the gap in the market. Today, European wines do less well on a global scale, due toeing undermined by the new world as a whole.
The competitive advantage new world wine regions have over their old world counterparts is largely due to the more liberal approach to wine making. New Zealand appears to have the most liberal laws, followed by Australia and South Africa. This allows the wine making process to be better manipulated in favour of lower overheads, and also widens the scope of options in which to manipulate the wine itself to better suit a target market. This can include adding sugar, or, caramel, to “improve” the wine for markets demanding sweeter wines.
Because of the less retrained ability of new world wine producers, along with the lack of conviction to remain loyal to traditional methods, the world wine market tends to favour new world styles in general, du to their lower cost, and the fact they are produced with target markets in mind.
Wine as a tradable commodity
Wine as a Tradable Commodity
By Hayley Green
“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and
one of the most natural things of the world that has been
brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater
range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any
other purely sensory thing.”
- Ernest Hemingway
Wine as a Tradable
Wine has been traded since before
the days of the Roman Empire.
Rome, in particular, relied on trade to
remain strong. This included the
export of Roman Wine to other areas.
Retrieved from: http://historylink101.com/2/Rome/roman-ships.htm
Roman Trade Routes – How Far Wine Travelled!!!
Early Wine Trade
Although most significant in Rome, wine
trade is thought to have first originated in
The modern economy is thought by some
to be founded on the Egyptian wine
The wine trade began to expand more,
with wine being made by monks and the
The biggest exporter of wine in the 12’th
and 13’th centuries was a Cistercian
France’s Wine Trade
Wine became crucially important to
France as a trading commodity in the
France, in particular Bordeaux, was
exporting so much wine to England,
records were not broken until 1979.
Movement to the New World
Although today’s Chilean area was first to
establish Vitis vinifera, it was the area of
California that flourished as a New World
wine area initially.
The establishment of vines in the 19’th
century, along with the opening of trade
markets during the gold rush, established
the region as the greatest wine producer
in the United States.
Today’s market is heavily dominated by
new world wines.
This is mainly due to the more liberal
approach to wine making in these
Less strict laws provide a competitive
advantage due to lower production
costs, and ability to better make a
product suited to a target market.
Today’s Wine Regions, Old and New
Retrieved from: http://winefolly.com/review/new-world-vs-old-world-wine/
Wine Trade Influences
The tendency of today’s wine market to
favour new world wine styles, has led to the
world of wine being blown open.
Old world wine making techniques are still
valued, but are not necessarily in as high
demand as new world wine styles, which push
the boundaries of wine making and are more
This demand for new world wine has
produced a tendency for temporary trends to
Current Health of the Market
The consumption of wine on a global
scale is stronger than ever, due to its
constant upward trend.
The decline in wine consumption in
traditional wine-drinking countries, is more
than compensated by the incline in wine
consumption in non-traditional areas.
Future of the Wine Market
By viewing economic patterns, wine
demand is expected to be concentrated
in three main areas.
These areas are China, India, and South
East Asia, excluding Muslim
Countries, steeped in tradition.
Challenges for the Future
France is expected to suffer a great
decline in demand for its wine, in
consistence with its already decreasing
The only way to prevent this would be to
loosen the laws around wine making, and
taking a new approach to old traditions.
Challenges to the Future
Global warming poses a big threat to the
future of the wine industry.
Climate change will change the terroir of
main wine regions.
New approaches to wine making and
viticulture will need to be established, and
new wine regions will develop as their
climates fall more in to line with ideal grape
Genetically modified varieties are already
History Learning Site. (n.d.). Ancient Rome and Trade. Retrieved from
The Story of Wine. (n.d.). History of Wine and the Vine [electronic hand-out]. Retrieved from WSC5.04
Introduction to Wine Business Online 2013 website:
Tipples, R. (2008, September). Can Europe recover? Old World wine tradition undermined by New World
attitude: the counterattack – Arrogant Frogs and Butterflies. Paper presented at the National Centre for
Research on Europe Conference. Retrieved from
Landsperger, J. (2007). The Impact of New World Wines on the UK Market (Bachelor’s thesis, Edinburgh
Napier University). Retrieved from
New World vs. Old World Wine. (2007). Wine Folly > Learn about Wine. Retrieved from
Anderson, K. (2004). The World’s Wine Markets: Globalization at Work. Chester, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing
Comite National Des Conseillers. (2010). Wine in the World as we Approach 2050: 21’st Century Market
Challenges – Foresight: Report. Retrieved from www.cnccef.org/TPL_CODE/TPL.../ID.../46-publications.htm
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