Continuing discussion form the UK Wine Forum, what's your view of the impact of websites like WineSearcher in raising the prices of fine wine - to the point where they the new high (price for a specific wine) becomes the new low (available anywhere in the market).
While I use it a lot, I think Wine-Searcher may be turning out to assist merchants more than customers of fine burgundy. The lowest prices - often by some way - are found in France, the US (for some reason) and Belgium, and even then an apology for having just sold the last bottle is the most common reply to the enquiries WineSearcher invites. Merchants are now well aware of the going rate worldwide for a wine, and understandably adjust their prices accordingly. It's probably operating a little like the art market, where the last auction price often sets a new benchmark for an artist.
Even the supposed member-owned "cooperative" Wine Society have told me on several occasions that the reason they have raised to market levels (however high) their release prices on those elite wines they hold back from EP offers - rather than offering them at a more favourable price for members - is that they suspect members will simply "flip" the wines. Yes OK market forces, bubble economy etc., but currently I can see no prospect of a retreat in the rising water table of burgundy prices.