Tuesday's Take Five looks at the cost (per cup) of five popular beverages: beer, wine (the good stuff); wine (the average sort); fizzies and juice

Tuesday's Take Five looks at the cost (per cup) of five popular beverages: beer, wine (the good stuff); wine (the average sort); fizzies and juice

By Amanda Morrall (email)

This is a republication of our original story calculating the cost of popular Kiwi beverages. Please note that Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand does not recommend drinking six standard units for men (four for women) in one go rather considers that to be a measure of excessive drinking when it goes beyond. My apologies for any confusion I might have caused in the video on that subject.


A little departure from the usual financial fodder today; a sobering look at how much it costs to wet your whistle depending on your preferred poison. Home brew secrets happily accepted.

1) Beer

My new "friend" loves beer. He's an Aussie. Go figure.  I don't want to know how many per month. The stats tell me a lot. Apparently, the beer swilling nation, or its citizens rather, drink on average 89 litres of the stuff per year.

New Zealanders by comparison are a bit more restrained. We consume somewhere around 78 litres per year. Well, not me personally, I love wine. So does my big boss (not Bernard). Big Boss loves vino almost as much as he loves making charts so he decided to whip one up so we could see the cost per cup of boozing and compare it to other non alcoholic beverages.

Back to beer. I do enjoy the odd one. Mac's Gold is my favourite. It typically costs around a $15 for a six pack. Big boss loves a bargain. He used a 6 pack of Steinlager (retail price at Countdown $12.99) for our model. The cost, per 250 ml (that's one cup) rings in at $1.64.  A standard bottle is 330 ml so we're looking at $2 plus a pop. My conservative guess of Aussie's consumption is 14 beers a week. I'm going to round up and say that's a $30 a week habit, $120 a month or $1560 a year.  

In crude terms, using our pricing model, a litre of beer works out on average to $7.92. Assuming the average Kiwi consumes 78 litres, that's an annual expenditure of just under $620 a year, whereas the average Aussie, at 89 litres, forks out just over $700. As that doesn't include beers bought at pubs, parties or BBQs, I'm guessing those are very conservative numbers. Crikey!

2) Wine

After getting myself dumped by the Aussie, I'll probably have to give up drinking "quality wine" and opt for the cheap stuff or rather the "standard" fare. Let's see how much I'll save myself...

We priced out a standard bottle of Shiraz at $13.99. That's not what many would call cheap but what we'll call cheerful and more importantly drinkable. That breaks down to $4.66 per 250 ml. The standard wine bottle contains 750 ml.  To be fair to the Aussie, I couldn't find the statistics on average wine consumption for New Zealanders and Australians. I'm not a big drinker but if I'm honest I could drink a bottle of week.  I try not to but assuming I did my own habit would ring in at close to $730. All of a sudden I'm not feeling so virtuous.

3) Quality wine

The economics of drinking wine go from bad to worse as you move up the grape scale. 

A quality Shiraz, and we're being conservative here, sells for $22.50 at Countdown. Yes, you can get really good sales and pay half this but we're talking in general terms here.

The damage, for those with a refined wine palate is $7.50 per 250 ml making it the most expensive beverage by far. The boss and I rationalised that for the good stuff, you're far less likely to binge, and therefore enjoy in smaller quantities than you might otherwise with cheap stuff. Admittedly, this is a gross generalisation that overlooks many factors, including one's thirst, income and the type of week you've had. Let's just say if I get dumped, I won't be drowning my sorrows in my favourite bottle of Central Otago Pinot.

4) Fizzy

I'm not a big fan of the fizzy. Bubbles, well that's another story. But were I to substitute beer or wine for carbonated sugary highs, I'd be a fair sight better off financially. Dismissing (but not minimising the health issues) Coke looks like the friendliest choice. It works out to be $0.44 per 250 ml. Cheaper than milk, which is really quite distressing.  

The big boss is a generous guy. He stocks our fridge with L&P, one of the priciest pops on the market at $0.97 per 250 ml.  Lemon Lime Bitters is marginally easier on the pocket book at $0.61 per 250 ml.

5) Juice

When I left Canada, I gave up drinking juice. I used to drink gallons of OJ. Given the abundance or oranges grown by our neighbour to the South, you could buy the frozen concentrate for a steal. It tasted quite nice. I'm not big on reconstituted juice and Charlies, as yummy and fresh as it is, is usually quite dear unless you find it on sale.  

Big boss is a fan of Cranberry. He loves the good life too even though he's a number cruncher. After he crunched the numbers on cranberry, I think he's feeling a bit sour. It works out to $0.83 per 250 ml. OJ is close to $.10 cheaper so perhaps he'll be switching.

Of course for those watching their pennies, and waistlines, water is the obvious choice. Something to be said for sobriety and clean living after all. Beer anyone?

For other Take Fives by Amanda Morrall click here. You can also follow Amanda on Twitter @amandamorrall

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Yep, I hear ya. The costs here are at the very low end of the scale as they do not incorporate the real spending that takes place in pubs, restaurants and of course Rugby games...which I have come to enjoy but are too expensive for me. I have been very lucky to have taken in some games for free.

Go to an Auckland city restaurant if you want to see how the price of wine esculates. Had a $15 glass of Merlot today at lunch. Same wine can be bought online for $22 per bottle.

This chart puts the price of drinks into perspective nicely. I'll stick to tap water - cheapest and healthiest option by far!
How did you get $0.97 for L&P but $0.44 for Coke? I though they were all part of the "Cola Cola range" and priced the same?

Absolutely ! ...... and if you compare the price of water to solid food , it's a no brainer ...... guzzle as much water as you can take in , and the hunger pangs disappear as if by magic ...
..... you'll save a fortune on the Gummy Miracle Cure ..... the warts will clear up too , I guarantee it or double your money back !

I got 'introduced' to wine about six years ago but find it a disappointment for the most part as I can taste the sulphur preservatives/steriliser they use in its manufacture. Then I read about the Reinheitsgebot which turned my mind to making beer myself so it can be chemical free. I have also found that beer contains more aromatics than wine and there is a massive diversity of beer. We have very narrow range available here apart from some select outlets.
I have done the kit beers, such as coopers, in days past but started looking for ways to improve the flavour of this generally poor tasting beer. I now brew straight from the grain. But it is purchasing and caring for quality yeast that was a turning point.
I am generally a low tech and low cost brewer, although my inventive streak aids in designing and building my systems to keep costs down. The Braumeister  is an example of high cost home brewing equipment, but the pages of realbeer.co.nz forums have plenty of examples of local ingenuity.
My beer costs me around $1.20 per litre to brew, but there is an investment of time. I find it enjoyable though and find I can push it do two batches in one day, a batch for me is 20 litres. At current far too high rates of consumption that means one brew day per month. Beers that contain extreme amounts of hops, such as an imperical IPA, can push the cost to double or triple.
The best bit is I can brew any style of beer I want to, and half the fun has been trying different beers that appeal to me. I look to the BJCP guidelines to see what suits my tastes. Actually that is not the best bit which that is that my beer tastes great, better than anything other than commercial craft beers. If it doesn't taste good, well I only have myself to blame.

Goes against the grain to say so, but it sounds like a classic case of sour grapes catching you on the hop.

Talking about booze...
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” said Jeremy Oliver, a Melbourne-based wine critic. “If you have A$100 ($105) in your pocket, that will get you a top bottle of Australian cabernet or shiraz. Today it also buys you a pretty serious Bordeaux, a very good Italian from any region or a sensational Spanish red.”
or it'll buy you a dozen of the finest blanc from Brancott....hmmmm.....it's a no brainer.

I'm not a big drinker but I do enjoy wine and beer in moderation. Its funny, went to D'Arenberg in MAclaren Vale, tried their "Dead Arm" Shiraz, sells for $50 plus and has a big repuattion, but far preferred one of their shirazs going for around $20. Maybe I am simply just not a connoisseur? They say its all very personal though. Had a great Clare Valley riesling last week called Mr Mick, normally sells for $15, got it for $8. Just gorgeous  

Nah, your tastebuds are fine I reckon. Some great wines for $20, $50 is just excessive. Thanks for the recommendation on the riesling.:)

My dad & some friends have been getting together for years on Friday night for a game of petanque followed by some wine tasting. Each person brings a bottle and they do a blind tasting of each wine. All know quite a bit about wine (they're French!) but it happens quite regularly that a cheaper wine is deemed better than the expensive bottles.
As for me, I'll stick to milk & water. And fresh orange juice. As embarassing as it is for a French woman, I don't actually drink wine (or alcohol for that matter, go figure).

We make iced tea and lemonade from the lemon tree we have (plus buy the tea bags of course) and occasionally orange juice from our orange tree. Our biggest drink splurge is the daily morning coffee. I could probably live without it but I'm not sure hubby would be willing to.

Good on ya. Home-made lemonade is the best. I feel another 30 day challenge coming on...

You need to put away some cheap rough red Amanda...this could be a Mulled Wine winter...it feels like early May down here..