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Wine drinking attitudes

by Tom cannavan, 05/01

Waverley Wine and Spirits Group have recently conducted some research into wine drinking habits and attitudes amongst British wine drinkers. The survey was conducted with over 3,500 people, including members of the wine and spirits trades and consumer groups in restaurants, pubs, clubs, supermarkets and off-licences.

The research looked at the social occasions on which we drink wine, why we drink wine, and what we look for when choosing a wine. As part of the research, wine drinkers have been categorised into six 'typical' consumer profiles as detailed below

Also take a look at wine-pages visitors' reactions to the survey from around the world (there's another link at the bottom of the page)

The Entertainers

  'We didn't really start drinking wine until about seven years ago. Having kids changes the way you drink, as you are obviously going out less. We love having friends round to try out new wines and most evenings we'll open a bottle with our meal. We'll try just about anything, especially if it's on promotion!'
wine preferences: South Africa, Australia, Chile, Italy

The Adventurer

  'I could never be a wine snob. Life's too short for that kind of seriousness. Wine is to be enjoyed, not studied. Sure, I know the difference between a Californian merlot and a New Zealand pinot noir but so what? If it tastes good, drink it. Half the fun is trying out new wines. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I say.'
wine preferences: Australia, California, Chile

The Easily Pleased

 'I've never had any pretensions about wine. I guess I tend to stick with ones that I know. Labels don' t impress me much. Just give me a bottle of something decent and inexpensive, sit me down at the kitchen table for a good chat with a friend or two and I'm perfectly happy.'
wine preferences: Liebfraumilch, medium French vin de pays

The Chardonnay Girl

 'It's a social thing. You know, the girls and a good night out, what could be more fun? Yes, we drink wine during the night, it doesn't fill you up like beer. I' ve got a few favourites but I'm not fussy and most places these days have a reasonable choice of wine.'
wine preferences: Australia, New World

The Classic Connoisseur

  'Good wine should be slowly savoured and appreciated, not guzzled down like fizzy pop. I'm sure plonk is all very well for some people, but you won't catch me drinking it. I like to know exactly what I'm drinking and where it's from. A fine vintage is always worth paying for, and it won't give you a sore head the next day!'
wine preferences: French wine, quality Bordeaux, Burgundy

The Enthusiast

 'I suppose I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to wine. These new world varieties just aren' t my style. For me, it has to be french, it has to be a well-established name and most importantly, it has to be quality. Of course it's going to be more expensive, but then good quality always is.'
wine preferences: Rhône, Loire, Rioja

The survey went on to plot the types of drinker, their attitude to wine and the occasions on which they drink wine against a grid that spanned traditional to modern attitudes, and mass-market to premium qualities... young drinkers on a big night out are likely to drink mass-market wines, made in a modern style; whereas couples in a restaurant drink premium wines in traditional settings.

The six person types identified above where then plotted on this grid...

...showing that Chardonnay Girls for example, fall right in the middle of wine quality, but strongly favour modern settings; whereas Classic Connoisseurs will drink premium wines in traditional settings.

The current position of wine on the mass/premium and traditional/modern grid was then plotted against other alcoholic drinks... wine is seen as more upmarket than pints of lager, but less trendy than vodka for example.

and survey participants were asked where they would place wines from different New World and Old World regions on the grid... that Australian wine, for example, was seen as ultra-modern, but firmly mass-market; whereas French wine is seen as very traditional, but the most 'premium' of all.

The attitudes of those surveyed were summarised as:

Away from the Old World
"snobbish, unwelcoming, set in their ways, expensive"

Towards the New World
"honest, down to earth, associated with freshness, energy & growth, accessible, relaxed"

So there appears to be good and bad news for all wine producing nations in the survey, though the overall trend that wine is not penetrating the mass-market of drinkers, and is not seen as particularly modern is worrying.

What do Wine Pages visitors think? See reactions to the survey