Ann Arbor began to rebound from the recession about a year ago. That’s the word from Steve Goldberg, sommelier at the Earle for thirty-some years. Traffic at the Earle, a luxury restaurant with a world-class wine list, is an obvious way to measure consumer confidence. But Goldberg has a more sensitive barometer–the $45 bottle of wine.

Even at the nadir of the recession, Goldberg explains, “You’d still get pretty high-end sales–by high-end I mean, in our place, $75 and up.” The rich, it seems, are always with us. Low-end ($25) bottles continued to sell too, he says, but the middle fell away. Last year, “the high end increased, and the middle started coming back.”

“People don’t seem to give up going out [during a downturn], they just moderate it,” Goldberg theorizes. “When they’re feeling better about their situation, you see that price point [for wine] go back up.” Federal Reserve, take note.