Blog: Olly WehringConfused? They will be

Olly Wehring | 4 January 2006

And so, after the comparative peace of Christmas week, 2006 is here and a crammed inbox suggests we’re going to be busy for another 12 months here at just-drinks. A prosperous and peaceful New Year to you all, although I reckon we may be hard-pushed to have the latter in the drinks industry.

Already, only four days in, one story has generated more than its fair share of traffic on the site. A survey conducted by Viña Ventisquero’s Chilean wine brand Yali in late December concluded that the majority of wine drinkers in the UK feel misled by the labels on wine bottles, as we reported yesterday (3 January). The survey showed that almost half of the UK’s wine drinkers prefer wine with a clear, modern label and are often more likely to base their choice of wine on the look of the bottle.

At a wine tasting in Bordeaux in October last year and again while on holiday in St Emilion in the summer, I recall being well and truly bamboozled by the amount of wares on offer. It’s going to take a fair while for me to comprehend what’s good or not, and what I like or not – and I’m supposed to know what I’m on about when it comes to wine! Pity poor Joe Shmoe in the street, then, for it’s the money in his pocket that the wine companies are all chasing.

While I concede that the survey wasn’t the most scientific I’ve seen – only 1,500 wine drinkers were surveyed in the busy week before Christmas – the findings confirm what Constellation Brands found when it published its research into the US wine market late last year. The creation of a consumer category the company termed as ‘Overwhelmed’ suggests that this is a global issue, and one that needs to be countered by wine companies at every turn. Considering also the problems on the UK high street last month, with Unwins going under, it looks like the onus is on the producers to change consumers’ perceptions.

It looks like 2006 is going to be a rollercoaster year for one sector of our industry, at least.


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