Recall that excise in New Zealand for wine is $2.7609 per litre for wine up to 14% alcohol. So excise tax is $2.07 of a 750 mL bottle. GST is 15% of the total retail price including excise.
So a $26 bottle of wine is $22.61 ex-GST, and $20.54 ex-excise. That still has the NZ price more than 40% over the US price.
I'm not sure I'd "blame" the taxman on the GST component: New Zealand, rightly in my view, collects more of its revenues from a very broad-based GST, and consequently less from property and income tax. Stripping out the GST component has alcohol excise responsible for $2.07 of an $8.31 price difference: a quarter of it. I'm definitely not one of the folks that thinks excise on alcohol is too low. But it doesn't explain much of the noted price difference.
Where to lay the blame for the rest?
- NZ supermarkets tend to run large temporary discounts on popular brands like Oyster Bay, and I'd bet that they shift most of their volumes of those products when they're on special - the everyday price then serves more to make the sale price look better and is only paid by suckers. And I'm pretty sure I've seen Oyster Bay on special around the $18 mark: $15.65 ex-GST, or $13.58 after also taking out excise.
- Oyster Bay potentially having contracted with a US wholesaler in $US terms when the Kiwi dollar was much lower than it now is: at a $0.74 exchange rate, that $12 US bottle would have been $16 NZD, not $14.
- Potential price discrimination across markets by the producer.
- Generalised "Everything is more expensive in New Zealand" problems.
I put the most weight on potential explanations 1 & 2.