Economics Professor Shakes Up The Wine Industry

Princeton economics professor Orley Ashenfelter has managed to cause turmoil in the wine industry in the last two decades with his newsletter LIQUID ASSETS. In the June 2008 issue of The Economic Journal, he writes about his studies of wine and the reaction of the wine press.

Ashenfelter claims that the weather determines the quality of the wines produced in a European vintage, and that this can be easily measured and quantified. Quality, he claims, can be measured by the prices the mature wines fetch at auction.

Although Ashenfelter”s analysis was initially applied to the analysis of red Bordeaux wines, it has now been extended to Burgundy, Rhone and Australian wines. Ashenfelter”s impact on the wine industry started with a New York Times front page article in 1990 headed ”Wine Equation Bends Some Noses Out of Joint”, and has
continued to Puerto Rico, where in 1992 the headline in El Nuevo Dia was ”El Professor Ashenfelter causo una tormenta”.

In March 1995, Ashenfelter”s controversial approach to wine resulted in a five-minute science segment on the popular television programme Good Morning America. And Barron”s provided a current assessment of his approach by quoting Michael Broadbent, Director of the Wine Department at Christies:

”Some say Orley is a crank, and I suppose in some ways he is. But he provides advice that year and year out provides excellent guidance for those who want to buy young wines to lay down.”

”Predicting the Quality and Prices of Bordeaux Wine” by Orley Ashenfelter is published in the June 2008 issue of The Economic Journal.

Orley Ashenfelter

Joseph Douglas Green 1895 Professor of Economics | Princeton University | +1-609-258-4000 | c6789@Princeton.EDU