…it appears that wine was much more expensive in Babylonia than beer in the Talmudic period:
R. Hisda said: “When someone can eat barley bread, but eats wheat bread, he violates (the injunction) ‘thou shalt not destroy‘ (Deut. 20:19).” R. Papa said: “When someone can drink beer, but drinks wine, he violates (the injunction), ‘thou shalt not destroy‘ (Deut. 20:19).” (b. Shab. 140b)
The point here is that just as it is wasteful to eat wheat bread rather than the more common (and cheaper) barley bread, it is equally wasteful to drink wine in Babylonia rather than beer.
Markham J. Geller, “Diet and Regimen in the Babylonian Talmud” in Food and Identity in the Ancient World, eds. Cristiano Grottanelli and Lucio Milano (Padua, Italy: S.A.R.G.O.N., 2004), 239.