Definition - What does Negociant mean?
A negociant, in the context of wine, is a merchant who purchases grapes, bulk juice or finished wine from other vineyards. They can bottle the wine under their own name either as is or after blending with other wines.
This practice first began in the French region of Burgundy. The term itself is derived from the French word for merchant
WineFrog explains Negociant
Negociants who buy grapes or grape byproducts complete the steps of vinification on their own, essentially becoming the winemaker. If negociants buy finished wine in bulk, they have a few options to choose from.
- Continue with the aging process
- Use it in a blend with other wine
- Bottle the wine as is
Negociants dominated the wine trade up until the last 25 years. Until recently, vineyard owners had no way to connect with buyers, and the expense of purchasing the necessary equipment such as presses and bottling machinery was prohibitive. Also, most vineyards were not large enough to make producing their own wine profitable. They made more money from selling off their grape crops to negociants.
Although negociant wines are not as highly regarded as estate-bottled or single vineyard wines, consumers benefit from this practice with reasonably priced wines of decent quality for everyday drinking. Often the best time to buy from a negociant is after an economic downturn. It's at this point that many vineyards can't sell out, and so they turn to negociants. As a consumer, you will know the region, but never the exact vineyard.