Unit 10 – Self Directed Project: Brief 2 – Wine Research

Daily Mail ‘4,000 grapes to choose from… but we stick to four wines because we don’t know what else to choose’ Read HERE

If the choice of wines in the supermarket leaves you feeling a little overwhelmed, you’re not alone.

According to new research, almost half of us stick to a repertoire of just four favourite wines because we don’t know what else to choose.

Even though there are more than 4,000 distinct grape varieties, research by Asda revealed that 46 per cent of us won’t try new wines for fear of wasting money on something we might not like.

The top four wines stay-safe shoppers are most likely to drink are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, with each being the favourite of more than 60 per cent of respondents.

When it comes to the reasons for choosing a wine, 60 per cent of respondents said that familiarity with a wine was a key reason for selecting it, while 41 per cent said that recommendations from friends and family were a key factor.

Interestingly, men were twice as likely than women to buy a wine after seeing it on a TV programme such as Come Dine with Me or Saturday Kitchen.

The research has led Asda to launch a new range of own-label wines, the Wine Selection, all featuring easy-to-understand tasting descriptions and clear labelling to encourage shoppers to experiment.

Tracy Ford, Asda’s wine category director said: ‘With so many wines to choose from and tighter purse strings, being adventurous and choosing something new can be risky so it’s no wonder Brits are sticking to what they know.

‘Our shoppers tell us they just want to know what a wine tastes like and which ones taste similar, so we’ve tried to remove the snobbery associated with wine by launching our new Wine Selection.’

Asda revamps own-label wine range with new mid tier

Asda is set to relaunch its own label range with Wine Selection, which will include over 80 new and existing products.

The retailer claims that the new range will create a “recognisable mid-tier brand”, which will be clearly merchandised and independently endorsed by experts, similar to Asda’s food brands such as Leiths Extra Special, Chosen by you and Butcher’s Selection.

The Wine Selection launch follows extensive customer research which showed shoppers are often confused by wine and stick to just a few wines they know. Three quarters of those questioned found shoppers were looking for easy-to-understand tasting descriptions on wine labels. As a result the range is now aiming to use more approachable language. Bottles will also be labelled by occasion, as this was another major survey finding.

    Wake-up call as poll reaveals most wine drinkers alienated by trade’s descriptions

Wine descriptions are more pompous than helpful, and most of them fail to help consumers understand the taste of the wine.

That’s the damning verdict of UK wine drinkers who were asked about wine and words in a poll commissioned by Laithwaite’s Wine.

The online survey of 1,000 wine drinking adults was carried out by One Poll and excluded Laithwaite’s customers.

Some 55% of those polled said wine descriptions failed to help them understand the taste of wine, while nearly two thirds said they never get the same smells from wine as are suggested from the label. Only 9% said they looked to wine critics before choosing a bottle.

The respondents were also asked to select which specific words – used by critics, supermarkets and on wine labels in the last year – they found most and least helpful. The most useful terms were fresh, mellow, zesty, peachy and earthy but terms including firm skeleton, old bones, wet stone, tongue spanking and haunting were selected as the least helpful.

Asked why the descriptions were not helpful, responses included finding them meaningless, bearing no relationship to a wine’s taste, pretentious and a load of poppycock.

Six out of ten people said picking out a clear fruit taste in the wine was the best way to help understand a wine’s taste and also found it helpful when food pairings were suggested.

Nearly half of the group surveyed said wine descriptions could be improved by using modern day language and comparisons.

“We have probably been guilty ourselves of using overblown language in the past but this is a wake-up call to the whole wine industry to make a change,” said Laithwaite’s Wine’s global wine consultant and taste expert Justin Howard-Sneyd MW.

“Describing wine is not an exact science. Wine and taste are very personal, very subjective things. A wine that I think tastes of cherry, could taste totally different to someone else, so it’s no wonder that there is such a vast variety of language when it comes to wine descriptions,” he added.

Following extensive customer research, Sainsbury’s discovered that its customers look at the style of wine first before the grape variety or country of origin. As a result, the supermarket has created a colour coded style guide with 3 styles for red and 3 for white in the hope that it will help broaden customers’ repertoire of wines and help them get out of their ‘wine rut’:

White wine styles: Crisp & delicate; Soft & fruity; Complex & elegant

Red wine styles: Light & fruity; Smooth & mellow; Rich & complex

August will also see the entire redesign of all Sainsbury’s own-brand wine labels. The new labels will incorporate the new style guide on the front label and on the top of the capsule, again making it easier for customers to identify the wines in their preferred style.

    Sainsbury’s introduces mid-tier own label wines

Sainsbury’s has introduced a new mid-tier into its own label wine range, which will sit between its House and Taste the Difference brands.

Given its own-label wines have grown by 16% in the past year – with its Taste the Difference range up 60% – the supermarket wants to encourage further growth with its By Sainsbury’s Winemaker’s Selection range.

It has spent the past eight months conducting in-depth research into what its customers want, via focus groups with customers and colleagues, as well as a close look at consumer buying patterns through its Nectar card data.

BWS category manager Andy Phelps, who has now been in the role for one year, told Harpers that while House offers “greater choice for consumers who don’t know a lot about wine” and Taste the Difference caters for more knowledgable customers, there was scope to offer more for those in between at the £5-£8 mark.

“Any other category has a By Sainsbury’s core range – its something we can hang our hat on,” Phelps said.

It has rolled out its By Sainsbury’s Winemaker’s Selection to its Spanish and Portuguese wines, which will be appearing on shelf by the end of the month, and plans to have revamped its entire core range by next May.

The labels have made space for Sainsbury’s style guide, which uses descriptors like “bold and spicy” on the front label and on the bottle top, as well as giving enhanced prominence to the abv content by making it 10% larger than legally required. “We want to have the clearest alcohol labelling policy – we want customers to be sure about what they’re picking up and don’t want to hide it on the back,” Phelps added.

The back label, aside from standard legal information, also has a big focus on tasting notes and grades the wine A to E based on whether it’s light or full-bodied. There is a map of the country, pinpointing the region where the wine is sourced. The labels have also been designed with the customer in mind: using its Nectar card data it can tell whether the wines appeal to more traditional or modern customers and has created the design accordingly.

Phelps has been spending time visiting producers in Australia, Spain and Bordeaux as well as listening to customers. “The amount I’ve learned has been phenomenal and looking forward we’ve now got a clear strategy about where we want to go – and it’s starting to bear fruit.”

0-3 Sweet –

You have a slightly sweet tooth and like wines that are ripe and juicy, rather than sharp and acidic.

4-6 Fresh 

You prefer your wines to be light and refreshing and you don’t really like wine to be too high in alcohol.

7-9 Smooth –

You enjoy a broad range of wines that are rounded and rich with bright fruity flavours.

10-12 Intense –

You enjoy big, bold wines that really pack a punch. For many of you this means the bigger the better.

The scale below shows where some popular wine styles can be found on the Taste Test scale:

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