Worried about threatened tariffs on European wines, Craig Perman has stopped buying them for his West Loop shop.
He doesn’t know what those potential tariffs could mean for his sales this year. He does know his European offerings can’t just be replaced with wines from other countries if the Trump administration follows through on plans to impose 100% tariffs on all wines imported from the European Union.
“Over 75 percent of the products I sell come from Europe,” said Perman, owner of Perman Wine Selections, 1167 N. Howe St. He’s been in the wine business for 23 years.
“I have been to a lot of the places [in Europe] of the producers that I sell, and it is not easy for me to simply pivot” to wines produced elsewhere.
He has spent years, he said, educating his customers on what he sells — “years of work, time, travel and tasting.”
Perman has stopped buying European wines for now because, he said, if a tariff that high takes effect, he couldn’t make a profit on those wines.
Last year, the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the United States in a dispute over what the U.S. said were illegal European subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Airbus. As a result, the United States was authorized to impose $7.5 billion of tariffs a year on European imports, including wine and cheese.
Nathan Adams, owner of Red & White Wines on 1861 N. Milwaukee Ave, was not surprised Trump would hold this type of threat over small businesses and sees no relationship between the aerospace industry and wine.
“I think it’s a symbolic thing,” said Adams. “Wine production has been there for a few thousand years, and I think they are trying to send a message [about] culture.”
Retailers already are dealing with a 25% tariff on European wine that took effect last year.
After that round of tariffs, prices of French, German and Spanish wines went up, said Steven Lucy, owner and founder of 57th Street Wines, 1448 E. 57th St.
“The tricky thing about the tariffs is that it takes some time for some things to trickle down,” Lucy said.
“If a French wine gets more expensive, you can’t just buy wine from California,” Lucy said. “I think that the 100 percent [tariff] will be very devastating to us, the retail shops.”