Saturday, January 05, 2008

Surprising Wine Survey

In the most recent Wine Press newsletter, the excellent and informative e-newsletter that is published by The New York Wine & Grape Foundation, a new survey from WineOpinions was highlighted. It showed that, "among frequent wine consumers, the lingering perception that Riesling is “a sweet white wine” diminished their appreciation of the wine and their interest in trying it. Overall, German Rieslings were most highly rated and New York Rieslings the lowest despite (New York Rieslings') consistent winnings in major wine competitions and critical acclaim among wine critics". The Wine Press went on to say that "This may well be due to the fact that New York wines have very limited distribution, so many of the respondents may not have actually tried them."
But although it is troubling in itself that Riesling still retains this "sweet white" perception, that's not the part that surprised me the most. I visited the website and perused some of the 'sample' survey data that is available for free (you must pay to get the full research).
The survey results for one of the questions was a bit shocking to me. The question was "On a wine label, a year like 2001 refers to ...", with the possible answers being
- Year grapes were harvested
- Year wine was made
- Year wine was bottled
- Don't Know

Did you choose the correct answer?
In the Marginal Wine Consumer group, 46% Incorrectly answered "Year Wine was Bottled", and only 21% Correctly answered "Year Grapes Harvested". In the Core Wine Consumer Group, 28% answered Incorrectly, and overall one-third of the respondents answered Incorrectly. Furthermore, only 44% of the Core Group and 45% of the Marginal Group answered that the Wine Vintage date is "Very Important".
Maybe I've become too much of a wine geek, but it seems as though this should be basic wine information that most wine consumers should know and this should be very important information to them for a variety of reasons, including for correct aging information, for validating that the bottle contains (per law) the majority of the grape as labeled, and for correct vintage researching of the growing conditions and harvest quality for that year. Maybe I'm making too big of a deal out of this, but if you disagree or agree, please send me your comments.
To see how much wine knowledge that you have, here are some fun wine quizzes to try: (All of you should answer Question #40 correctly!!!)


Hans WP said...

In a way, it isn't surprising to me that people don't consider vintage to be terribly important if they primarily drink wines from places like California, Australia and parts of South America where the growing seasons are virtually exact copies of each other year after year - hot, dry and sunny. That's one of the things I love about European, and New York, wines - vintage actually makes a difference...sometimes a huge difference, as 2006 and 2007 will show us.

Jason Feulner said...

The problem with wine surveys is that many people pretend they know what they're talking about when it comes to wine, even if they do not. I'm glad that the surveyors seem to recongize this fact.

If I called up random households and asked questions about classical literature or exotic foods or something less accessible, many people wouldn't hesitate to let me know that they didn't know much about these topics if that were the case. When it comes to wine, however, many people feel that their experience, whether extensive or limited, more than justifies their perceptions.

Politics would also fall into this category, as well as educational matters. We all experience these things to some degree and therefore many of us feel more free to extrapolate at will.

If anything, this survey proves that while the average wine consumer is probably becoming more and more aware of wine in general, that the true market still lies in impulse purchases for immediate consumption. Pretty labels and well-known varietal names still go a long way in producing sales!

Finger Lakes Weekend Wino said...

Hans & Jason, Good Points!