Blog: Chris Brook-CarterAnd our survey says...

Chris Brook-Carter | 21 August 2003

What makes a good wine? That was the question posed by a press release that landed on my desk - well on my screen via email actually - this morning. Is it the time it spends in the barrel ageing gracefully, the quality of the grapes, perhaps handpicked and sorted, or the skill and love invested by an experienced winemaker. Or is it just what the majority of people want to drink?
If that is the case then according to a UK survey of some 2,500 people Piat d'Or is a better wine than its French rivals at price points of £5.99 and £11.99. The survey revealed that only 19.9% chose the expensive wine as their beverage of choice in a blind taste test, while 61.5% opted for Piat d'Or.
How many in the trade really believe that Piat d'Or is a better wine than its rivals that retail over £10? Probably not many, which raises a number of questions. Firstly are French winemakers making wines so far out of kilter with modern tastes that the vast majority of consumers, not knowing what they are drinking, prefer a £3.99 style wine to a £11.99? Or is there actually little to tell between the quality of a £3.99 wine and an £11.99 wine, and we as consumers are duped into paying a premium by a mixture of pricing, packaging and what we are told we should buy. The final option is that the general UK public wouldn't know a good wine if they were drowning in it.
There is perhaps something interesting to learn in all of these options, but taken to their extreme none are very satisfying, which does sort of bring into question the validity of the results.
Interestingly it took an email back to the PR firm to actually confirm that Piat d'Or paid for the survey, which means it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Furthermore, we are not told how Piat d'Or's rivals were chosen or indeed what they are - they could just have been terrible wines. And finally we don't know who the consumers are who took part in the test. Had any of them even tasted much wine before?
All in all, it shows just how difficult it is to really take research conducted by an interested company or party at face value.

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