In a move that will bring tears to the eyes of wine snobs, the UK's biggest off-license will pilot a scheme arranging wines by price. The idea is to remove the intimidation that consumers may feel when buying wine. Thresher hopes that making wine easier to choose will increase consumer experimentation; it could also increase the audience for wine in the UK.

The explosion of popularity for wine in the UK has introduced many consumers to a bewildering variety of grapes, styles, labels, producers and merchants.

But too much choice can be a bad thing when many consumers still only have a limited knowledge of wine, according to Thresher.

The greater variety of wines on offer appears to be contributing to a trend for around three quarters of consumers to stick to a small number of familiar wines regardless of whether they would like to experiment or not. A further third of the population admits to being baffled by the drink too.

By cutting through this clutter, Thresher is going to make things easier. Not only will wines be arranged by price, a proxy for quality, but there will also be an easy to understand rating system so consumers will have a good idea of what to expect from the wine.

The move will certainly help to make things easier, especially for those prone to buying on "price-points" as much as anything else. However, there are other benefits besides increased ease and simplicity. If the move is successful it is also likely to introduce a wider audience to wine. Even though the number of wine drinkers in the UK has grown substantially this move can only help to attract those put-off from buying wine in the first place because of its snobbish reputation.

While die-hard traditionalists and snobs are unlikely to welcome Thresher's trial of the scheme in 30 of its UK stores it should help British wine drinkers try, and buy, more wine. It may well also attract a few more people to the drink as well, increasing wine's overall share of the total alcoholic drinks market in the UK.

Related research: Datamonitor, "New Directions in Drinks 2000-05" (DMCG1839)