Some of Your Favorite Groceries (Including Wine) Could Double in Price This Year — Here’s Why

updated Jan 3, 2020
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Last year, ripples surged through the wine industry as the Trump administration proposed 100 percent tariffs on French wine. Since then, the threat has gotten even greater now that the same tariff has been proposed on many European imported food and beverage products.

Lovers of funky Italian natural wines and smooth German Rieslings have a right to be concerned with how much they might have to pay for their beloved bottles in the near future. Late last year, the U.S. imposed a 25 percent tax on certain imported goods including single-malt whiskies from Scotland and Ireland, dairy products like cheese and butter, and olive oils. The tariff also affected wines, but only those from France, Germany, Spain, and the U.K. For the most part, importers and producers shouldered the cost to keep their business with consumers flowing, which meant that we as drinkers didn’t see too much change as a result.

This proposed tariff is different however, as Food & Wine executive wine editor Ray Isle explains in what can only be described as an appalled rant. “There is no possible way for U.S. importers and wholesalers to absorb 100 percent tariffs without raising prices drastically,” he notes, pointing out that Chianti will go from $15 to $30, and Champagne from $30 to $60. But long term, it’s even worse: “The end result will likely be that importers and wholesalers will be forced to stop bringing these wines to the U.S. market; they simply will not be competitive in the market anymore.”

Even domestic wine will run into issues. Since distributors can’t survive on American wine alone, they and importers will be forced to close, and shops will have to lay off staff. Isle’s view of the potential landscape is extremely bleak and focuses the brunt of the argument on wine, while the full list of products is much greater, including olives, cheeses, pork, tinned seafood, brandies, whiskies, and more.

While he gives little hope, he does note that you can contact the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which is taking comments until the 13th, or email your representative to express your outrage.