Want to Avoid Those New Champagne Tariffs? Consider an Auction.

Bids on French wines are increasing after the announced price hikes

Champagne
Champagne tariffs are sending wine drinkers into new markets
Tristan Gassert / Unsplash
By Kirk Miller / December 9, 2019 10:25 am

With the U.S. threatening up to 100 percent tariffs on Champagne (along with other French goods like handbags and cheese), wine drinkers are turning to a new market: Auctions.

According to the Financial Times (paywall), wine collectors are looking toward rare and vintage bottles that are already in the U.S. and going up for sale at auction houses such as Sotheby’s Wine, WineBid and Zachys. The latter wine auction house saw the number of bids increase by 10 percent during the first event since the tariffs were announced.

“Some of [that gain] is attributable to tariffs already in place, and also the threat of higher tariffs on champagne,” noted Jeff Zacharia, president of Zachys.

The new tariffs, which follow a 25 percent import charge launched in mid-October and should affect as much as $2.4 billion in goods, come as a response to a three’ percent digital services tax targeting U.S. tech brands operating in France. Meanwhile, France has vowed to challenge these increases with the World Trade Organization.

And wine brands themselves are extremely unhappy with the new tariffs, rightly noting that “[These taxes] target French wines again and always in the context of a dispute between France and the United States that does not concern our sector,” says Antoine Leccia, president of the wine/spirit export body FEVS.

Last year Champagne sales set a new record for sales, with the U.S. a particularly robust market.

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