Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Deconstructing The French Laundry Wine List, Part II

Having more refined data than last time I focus on prices in this post.

Price Word Clouds 

Word clouds below use prices instead of frequency: size corresponds to average price of bottles of wine each term belongs to (hence, even if expression occurs only once but in very expensive wine it appears on top):

Let's remember that Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is less expensive than Château Petrus. Next, let's zoom in by splitting this into two clouds: for red and for white wines (some names will disappear from both because they don't belong to neither reds nor whites, e.g. Scion which belongs to fortified wines).

Red wine price cloud (1287 bottles total):

Now both Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Château Petrus are first among equals. The hint why the former improved lies in the white wine price cloud (539 bottles total):
The Burgundian estate is present here but not so for the one from Bordeaux. It'll be shown momentarily that the prices of whites are consistently below reds so averages tend lower when computed across the board. This effect is not present for Château Petrus as it doesn't feature whites at all.

Last cloud for today is whites price cloud without outlier Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Removing it makes viewing prestigious whites on The French Laundry list almost as pleasant as drinking (just kidding):

Gender Wine Inequality between Reds and Whites

Are whites cheaper than reds? Using population pyramid type of histogram we can compare them by price (think of white as female, red as male (or vice versa if you wish), and wine price as salary). And just like in population pyramid we have plots for each country (France, Italy, and US):

US makes the best case for inequality while France fares best for equality (longer history of wine democracy?). All 3 show consistent trends though: red prices are right skewed with fat tails, while white prices are more symmetric with lower centers of distribution. Of course, all results are subject to The French Laundry sommelier's bias in wine selection (and possibly the reason that Spain was heavily under-represented in whites so it didn't make this chart).

Compare median prices (dashed horizontal lines) across 3 countries: contrary to popular belief American wines are better value than European counterparts (assuming that all wines on the The French Laundry list are outstanding). American wines really represent the "budget" section of the list (prices under $200) while Europeans peak above $200. I will follow up on that in the future posts.

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