Media Briefings

Economics Professor Shakes Up The Wine Industry

  • Published Date: July 2008

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.’
Notes for editors
: ‘Predicting the Quality and Prices of Bordeaux Wine' by Orley
Ashenfelter is published in the June 2008 issue of The Economic Journal.
Ashenfelter is Joseph Douglas Green 1895 Professor of Economics at Princeton
University and the former editor of the prestigious American Economic Review.
For further information: contact Orley Ashenfelter on +1-609-258-4000 (email:
c6789@Princeton.EDU; website: or
Romesh Vaitilingam on +44-7768-661095 (email: