ANSWERS To Tough Wine Questions
The recent Fermentation Survey on "Tough Wine Questions" was issued to to look at questions about wine that interest me as a marketer. In this post I want to deliver an overall look at what the 238 folks who answered the survey had to say.
For the avid wine drinker and wine enthusiast the question of Terroir looms large. Without it there really is little meaning to our relationship with wine since if all wine is the same, no matter where it is grown, well, then who cares.
I asked you to identify which statement best describes your own understanding of the concept of terroir. 70% said:
"The influence that the entire natural environment (soil, climate, slope, rain, etc) has on the character of a wine."
This is a New World concept of terroir insofar as it tends to give equal weight to both climate and soil. In Europe you are far more likely to see soils given more credit for the character of the wine. Also, you will see deference given to local and regional winemaking traditions in any descriptions of terroir. These two descriptions of terroir were given by 11% of respondents respectively.
In my mind, the term "Old Vine" is among the most abused and misunderstood terms you will ever see on a label. What constitutes "old vines" and what character do they add to a wine? I didn’t examine the latter, but only the former in this survey when I asked what criteria should exist for labeling a wine "Old Vine?"
38% said the vines should be 40 years or older, while 28% said 60 years or older. Upwards of 78% or respondents believed the vines producing the grapes for a wine labeled "Old Vine" should be older than 40 years.
HIGH ALCOHOL WINES
There is a debate in the industry right now as to whether the current concern often expressed in the wine industry over higher and higher alcohol wines will eventually trickle down to the consumer who will then reject them. It’s definitely an open question. In this survey I wanted to know how Fermentation readers responded to high alcohol wines.
You are aware of them. Over 80% of you say that wines have drifted up in alcohol content over the past few years. However, over 50% of you say you either "Don’t Mind" them or "Like them". 35% of you say you react to these wines either by not liking them or by not buying them. Another 7% of you think high alcohol wines are hurting the wine industry.
There is a significant split among Fermentation Readers over the utility and impact of numerical wine ratings. Half say they are useful in helping choose a wine to buy, while half say they are of no value. Half of you say they are hurting the wine industry while half say they are making wine more accessible to more people, something that is clearly beneficial to the wine wine industry.
Now here’s something very interesting: Nearly 80% of respondents believe that numerical wine ratings promote sameness in wine. Less than 1% of respondents believe numerical wine ratings promote a diversity of style in wine.
You are overwhelmingly male. You are likely by a margin of over 80% to have an undergraduate college degree or better. You are likely to be middle aged. You probably live on the East or West coast. Well over half of you have an annual household income of $100K and….. more than half of you work in the wine industry or an industry that serves the wine industry in some capacity.
I have more to say on these findings. There are some very interesting nuggets when you break down the questions and parse them. They also give rise to some very interesting questions, which I will be raising in later posts.
In the mean time, you can view the results of the Survey HERE.