A survey by France's state office for the wine industry, ONIVINS, shows that 77% of consumers consider that it is difficult to choose a wine while 44% say purchasing it is an "ordeal".

The findings have prompted ONIVINS and supermarket groups to explore ways of facilitating consumer choice among the wine shelves of retail outlets where up to 600 different wines are on display at any one time.

Faced with a steady decline in consumption, French wine-growers are also doing their bit towards simplifying the task of choosing wine. In the Loire region, the Maison Ackerman-Rémy-Pannier has launched a new range of wine, Tastemets, which is specially-tailored to supermarket segment. Bottles carry detachable labels which recommend the dishes which go well with the wine as well as recipes.

The company has invested €100,000 in the concept and is aiming to sell 200,000 bottles this year, rising to 500,000 bottles in 2005.

Meanwhile, the AOC Rhône and Rhône Valley trade association, Inter-Rhône, recommends that the reference "fruity" and "full-bodied" appear on the labels of a new range regional wines in order to aid the untrained eye.

For now exclusively retailed by the Nicolas wine cellar chain in France, the wines could be available in supermarket outlets by the end of the year.