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Pinot Grigio (and USA) girl

Published:  23 July, 2008

It's official. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus when it comes to choosing wine. In my role as research director at Wine Intelligence, I presented new research insights at a Women of Wine event on 2 March in London entitled Women as wine consumers'.

This research investigated the buying and choosing patterns of regular male and female wine drinkers (those who drink wine at least once per month) in the UK. Based on online survey data with more than 1,000 UK wine drinkers, the research both confirms widespread stereotypes but also challenges some of the accepted wisdom held in the wine industry about what male and female wine consumers choose.

My theory is that the wine industry is missing out on a significant opportunity. Women make up the majority of wine drinkers, and - despite the fact that many women now work - they are still the most likely person in their household to be tasked with doing the weekly grocery shop, which is where three-quarters of wine is bought,' she said. And yet, it is very hard to persuade women to take wine more seriously and, in particular, to see the point in spending that extra pound.

Where are the wine industry going wrong when it comes to serving us women?

When it comes to choosing wine, women start with the fundamental question: how much it will it cost? Women are significantly more likely to be influenced by price and promotion than men. Half of female wine drinkers will spend 3.99 or less on a bottle of wine for themselves to drink at home, compared with 39% of men who will buy at this price point for the same occasion. When it comes to buying wine for a special occasion such as a dinner party at home, 15% of men will spend more than 10, compared with only 4% of women.

Having selected her price range, what will she choose? The stereotype that women drink more white wine than men is true. Half of women drink mainly or only white wine compared with a quarter of men. And when it comes to red wine, only 28% of women drink mainly or only red wine compared with 51% of men. Despite the market trend towards red wine, women are actually moving away from red wine in favour of white.

In fact, more women are drinking white wine now than a year ago.

When it comes to white varietals, the evidence indicates that Pinot Grigio is not just for the ladies. Around 13% of both men and women state that this is that most preferred white varietal. And what what is the number-one white variety chosen by women? Half of them choose Chardonnay - but then so do half of male white wine drinkers.

In the red category, men and women have significantly different preferences for variety. The number one choice (37%) for men is Cabernet Sauvignon, compared with the number one choice for women being Merlot (28%). The trend data, however, indicates that women are moving towards Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our female wine consumer has now selected her price range, colour and possibly a variety. Where will her wine come from? When it comes to selecting country of origin, we see some significant differences between the wine that men and women will select. In line with industry wisdom, women are significantly more likely than men to choose wine from USA (California) than men - with 11% choosing this wine the most often, compared with only 3% of men.

Women are also significantly more likely to choose wine from South Africa than men, with 12% stating that South Africa is their number one country of choice compared with 7% of men.

There are also significant differences in the way that men and women view wine from both France and Australia. Women, like men, select Australia as their number one country of choice. However, this holds true for only 28% of female wine consumers compared with 37% of men. And when it comes

to French wine, again we see that this is significantly more likely to be the country of choice for men (26%) than

for women (21%).

Summarising the situation with women wine consumers, I said: As an industry, we hold a set of conventional wisdom about what women wine consumers want. Our insights suggest that while some of this is correct, we all too often make assumptions that are in fact incorrect.

There are more female than male wine consumers in the UK and this trend will continue. Yet, many within our industry either discount the importance of our female wine consumers or choose to produce female-specific' wine products and brandsthat generally miss the mark significantly and are often patronising and annoying.'

Due to the level of interest generated at the Women of Wine event about the female wine consumer, Wine Intelligence will be presenting further detail and insight about women wine consumers at The London International and Spirit Fair in May. For more details on how to join a Wine Intelligence seminar at the fair, contact Nicola Engelbach of Wine Intelligence on