Skip to main content

US merchant activity on the global fine wine market 

By May 14, 2024Uncategorized
  • US buyers have become a prominent force on the global marketplace. 
  • Italian wines are in particular demand.  
  • Dollar strength and market conditions afford US merchants favourable trading conditions.  


Today, about one third of all purchasing on the global fine wine exchange is driven by US wine merchants. This compares with just 1% in 2011 as the chart below shows. US buyers have steadily become a more prominent force on the global fine wine exchange, their growing engagement influenced positively by wider macroeconomic events over the last 15 years. 

Global trade by buyer region

What are US merchants buying? 

So far this year, US merchants seem to have focused their buying on globally established brands. The chart below shows their evolving buying patterns over the last ten years.  

Breakdown of US merchants’ trade by wine region

Bordeaux’s trade share amongst US merchants has declined over the last 10 years. At its peak in 2015, it accounted for nearly 75.0% of US buying. At its lowest in 2015, it was about 26%.  It has since risen back to over 40.0% of total US buying in 2023, at a time when buyers were banking on safe bets amid market uncertainty. This shift is largely due to the broadening of the fine wine market encouraging more diverse trade. It should be noted that the value of Bordeaux trade has remained relatively stable over this period, but as trade other regions have grown in popularity, Bordeaux’s share has fallen. 

For example, US merchants are particularly interested in Italian wine – so far this year they have bought 44.5% of all Italian wines traded on Liv-ex (by value). Trade has been particularly focused around Tuscany, with the region taking 13.0% of US merchants buying by value year-to-date.  

Super-Tuscans prove to be ever in-demand amongst US buyers –Tenuta San Guido is the most popular producer, as measured by trade value, taking 19% of Italian trade share, followed by Antinori (8.0%).  However, last year, Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 2018 was top-traded Italian wine by both value and volume by US merchants.

Dollar Strength 

The chart below shows the Liv-Ex Fine Wine 100 index – which tracks the price movement of the 100 most sought-after wines on the secondary market – in Pound Sterling (GBP), Euro (EUR) and US Dollar (USD). The US Dollar, thanks to its sustained strength, currently has more buying power than the both the Euro and the Pound in the fine wine market. 

Dollar strength opportunities 

Tracking the Italy 100 index across different currencies allows us to see how global currency fluctuations can provide opportunities for Dollar buyers. At the time of writing, the Italy 100 in USD sits 10 points lower than its equivalent in GBP or EUR.  

While prices of the wines composing the Liv-ex Italy 100 have remained flat over the past year in EUR and the GBP, they have decreased in the USD. In other words, the purchasing power of the dollar, with respect to the euro and pound, has increased over time. 

‘Buying the dip’ in USD terms could prove a very worthwhile strategy – US buyers of Italian wines currently hold an advantage over UK and European buyers. Where prices have increased for Pound and Euro buyers, dollar-buyers are paying no more than they would have three years ago.  

To illustrate:  

  • In April 2021 £1,395 would have bought a 3×75 case of 2017 Masseto. At the time, this would have been equivalent to $1,927. 
  • Today, a case costs £1,595, equivalent to $1,994. While the price has increased by 14.3% for GBP buyers, it has increased by just 3.5% for USD buyers.