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Italian wine still baffles consumers

Published:  23 July, 2008

by Rebecca Gibb
Two-thirds of drinkers of Italian wine admit that they are confused by the country's grape varieties and regions.

Italian specialist Enotria commissioned research company Wine Intelligence to find out the perception of the country to wine drinkers, with the results announced last week in Knightsbridge, London.

Two-thirds of those questioned said they just don't understand Italian wine.

Most could name Chianti, but no-one made the link between Chianti and Sangiovese,' said Davina Boyle, marketing manager at Enotria, and one-third of all the people

surveyed couldn't name any wine style of type, so we are dealing with a consumer with very limited knowledge.'

Just over 8 million people in the UK (one-third of all wine drinkers) consume Italian wine regularly. The research divided them into two groups: devotees' - who make Italian wine their first choice - and triallists'.

According to Wine Intelligence, devotees account for 1.6 million consumers. They tend to be female, under 45 and most will drink Italian wine five times a week. This group is drawn to everyday Italian wines such as Frascati or varietally labelled Pinot Grigio.

The triallist group (6.7 million drinkers) buys wine from all over the world - especially France and Australia. The triallist tends to be male, over 45 and more adventurous in his wine purchases, preferring red to white.

According to AC Nielsen, Italy is the fourth-biggest importer by volume to the UK, and in the on-trade it is second only to France, with 19% of market share. The average bottle price in the off-trade remains less than 3.50 (MAT to week ending 9 September) and in the on-trade, diners rarely spend over 20. However, the large triallist category said they were prepared to trade up, from a Chianti to a Chianti Classico, for example, if advised by a sommelier.

Boyle added: We all know Pinot Grigio is driving the Italian category at the moment. It has increased by more than a million cases, or 69%, from last year.' To capitalise on this growth, Enotria has added a sparkling and a ros Pinot Grigio to its portfolio, and there are plans to create a red version.