11/03/2009

Choosing a Bottle of Wine

Posted by The Wine Whore |



Think about it... you're in a wine shop looking for that perfect bottle (or case) of wine to take home and devour....

What factors do you consider when deciding on your purchase?

Apparently, according to an article by Peter Mitham titled How Consumers Choose Wines, you decide which wine to buy mostly based on appellation (AVA). The degree to which the actually winery itself is considered is based solely on the price of the wine. Pricetag is low and you are shooting from the hip based solely on region. Pricetag goes up and now you're considering the winery's reputation. In other words, just because a bottle comes from the Russian River Valley, doesn't mean you're going to stampede to the cashier to spend $400 per bottle.

While I think this makes sense with my own buying habits, I think this fails to account for an additional factor that goes into choosing wine: the knowledge/experience of the person choosing the bottle. For instance, does a less experienced wino spend more or less on average for a bottle? Does a less experienced wino consider the advice of people like Robert Parker and scores from Wine Spectator more than AVA or the winery's reputation?

After spending time in wine stores which display the scores of their wine and watching people's behavior and comments while shopping, I would have to believe that this experience and knowledge about wine has a significant role in the decision making process. This leaves me wondering exactly how large of a percent of the wine buying population (and coincidentally the population surveyed for this study) really knows anything about the wine they are purchasing?

Think about that the next time you choose a bottle of wine! Are you really choosing or has someone already chosen it for you?




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9 comments:

wanderlust78 said...

I think you can have the best damn soil and growing conditions but if the wine maker doesn't have the game to match, then what does it matter where it came from!
Recently I have been buying wine just based on the varietal because I want to expand my knowledge.

The Wine Whore said...

Interesting! How much does cost play into your decision? In other words, do you find that you are willing to buy a less expensive bottle of wine based on AVA without knowing much about the winery?

Cheers!

Kevin said...

I will say for me, it is definitely a combination of factors. Sometimes, I'm looking for something that I read about, be it from a wine blogger, publication like Tanzer, Spectator or Enthusiast.

Other times, AVA does factor in. For example, my wife and I like RRV Pinot when shopping California, but have also recently experienced good luck with New Zealand and Australia. If the wine is $20 or under, we'll take a risk on something we choose ourselves. I also ask the local wine folks if they have an opinion on something, though I'm more likely to do that if there is no shelf talker or the shelf talker is from a reviewer I've had inconsistent luck with.

When I was in retail, there were all sorts of customers, but I'd say that most fell into 1 of 4 categories.

First, the point chaser. They kindly denied my offer of help and would wander the aisles, reading the shelf talkers. 90 points or better was usually an easy sell for them.

Second, the varietal lover. These people stuck to 1 or 2 varietals and would trade around based on price. Red varietals drew a more adventurous sort, with Chardonnay drinkers being the most loyal to their brand.

Third, and they cross with #2, the label drinker. All they wanted was the same wine, every day or every week. No moving for them. We loved these customers from a business point of view. They moved boxes.

Fourth, my personal favorite, the people who would ask my opinion and come back for more, whether they enjoyed the wine or not. They told me their opinion and we'd work together to get their next selection.

My ultimate favorites were those who would just say, gimme a mixed case of your selections, with whatever paramaters (total budget, regions / varietal mix, etc.) they might want to stick to

Kate said...

You know those venn diagrams with the interlocking circles? (wow haven't thought of those in ages...) On average - I find the perfect balance between cost, varietal, and AVA/region. If I have the information handy, any sort of rating would be the tie breaker.

Cost is the biggest thing for me - I'll try and buy anything that seems interesting under $15. Yes, it could even by a cutesy label. When its $25+, then some background info is needed, such as the reputation of the winery, the region, and if I by chance know it, the year and how the wines came out to be (VERY new to that concept). Those vintage charts things.

BTW - I used to be (and still am) "The Happy Mrs." - just changed my posting name!

The Wine Whore said...

Hello Kate (aka The Happy Mrs.) :)

Ahh venn diagrams... brings back fond memories!

I think I use a lot of the same buying strategy that you do... I've also been thinking about the breakdown of cost between bottles that I purchase. Maybe I'll do a followup on it...

How about you? What would you say is the cost range of the majority of bottles that you purchase?

Cheers!

Richard Auffrey said...

I think free wine tastings help many people buy wines they might not normally choose. There can be that fear factor of an unknown wine. Why buy a wine you know little about? People often stay with what is familiar. But, if they taste an unknown wine, they may find they enjoy it and then will buy it.

Personally, I am more willing to take that risk and buy a strange or unique wine, without tasting it first.

I recall a study from a few years ago that stated the average consumer spends about 38 seconds deciding on what wine to buy. That means they are not thinking much about the decision. And also implies that labels might be a contributing factor to their decision.

The Wine Whore said...

I'd have to agree about the tastings... I think they help people decide which bottles they like. Sometimes they may buy something they never would have even thought about purchasing whereas other times they may realize that the bottle they were about to take home is not really what they were looking for.

Winery visits are also very helpful. Since many US wineries produce multiple varietals, this is the best way I've found to discover exactly which ones that I feel they "do right".

I am with you... I usually take a risk but I do it either because I've wanted to try a certain bottle from a specific winery, region, or type of grape. Sometimes I try a bottle because I see someone or several other people talking about it.

That's an interesting study... only 38 seconds? I'm trying to think about how long I usually spend... I sometimes find myself wandering around for hours without picking anything.

Cheers!

Kate said...

38 seconds?

Definitely not me.

I know this ties back to one of your posts several weeks ago about cost, etc. Overall I'm cool with spending under $25 on an every day wine. These days (when I'm between freelance jobs) I'll cut that back to $15 and drink more of what's in my "cellar"

The Wine Whore said...

Yeah, I think 38 seconds may be a bit low for most winos. Now you've got me thinking about how often I dip into my "cellar". I've got several bottles in there that aren't really overly expensive but have sentimental value... for some stupid reason I haven't brought myself to open them. It's like I am torn between drinking them or letting them go bad.

I guess I should just remind myself that wine is meant to be enjoyed and just crack those suckers open!

Cheers!

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