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Wine Intelligence sparks fine wine debate

Published:  20 May, 2010

Research firm comes under fire for describing fine wine as anything above £10

Research firm comes under fire for describing fine wine as anything above £10

Wine Intelligence sparked a lively debate during its seminar on Fine Wine Intelligence: Who drinks expensive wine? after describing fine wine as "anything not mainstream" and "above £10."

Speaking at the London International Wine Fair, the research firm defined luxury drinkers as those who spent UK£10+, US$25+ and Switzerland CHF25+.

But the audience complained that Wine Intelligence had "lowered" the fine wine bar.

Delegate Tim Hall, director of Scala School of Wine, said: "Fine wine is much narrower than your description of any wine above £10.

"Wine connoisseurs would not describe anything below £30 as fine wine."

But Lulie Halstead, chief executive of Wine Intelligence, said: "It is not up the wine industry to define what a fine wine is. It is too easy for us to be blinkered.

"We have described it as anything beyond mainstream. Most importantly it is what the consumer understands to be a fine wine."

In March, Wine Intelligence surveyed 3,900 regular wine drinkers  in the USA, UK and Switzerland via Vinitrac and split the consumers into two groups - regular luxury wine buyers (who buy wine above £10 regularly). This group are "affluent and exclusivity seekers." who seek wines they can age and continued to spend during the economic downturn. They search for wines that are more exclusive or rare.

The second group were occasional luxury wine buyers (who buy wine above £10 on a yearly to bi-monthly basis). This group made up 88% of the consumer base but only 40% of sales by value. They purchased in everyday to premium segments and were in search of classic wines, seeking reassurance by heritage and provenance. Ageing of wine was not important. The economic downturn, did however, affect their spending habits.

Two thirds of those surveyed believed all wine producing countries produced fine wine and not just Bordeaux or Burgundy. France, however would come top of their list if they were to look for a fine wine.