Wine Bottle Talk : Does The Label Matter

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When you’re shopping for wine, what makes you reach for one bottle over another? A single glance at a wine bottle is enough to gain a fairly strong first impression, but so many reasons can play a role in the selection: Is it the appealing label? The shape of the bottle? The vintage, region, or wine maker?

We wanted to learn more about how people choose wine, so we surveyed 2,000 wine drinkers to get some valuable insight. We asked our respondents how much the bottle’s appearance really matters, which types of wine they prefer, and where they buy their favorite bottles. Here’s what we found out.

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We showed our survey respondents these three bottles of red wine and then asked them to choose their favorite. (The prices range from $10 to $150, but we kept them a secret to get honest opinions.) Did they choose based on how appealing the label was or the shape and color of the bottle? Or how expensive the wine looked? Were they familiar with the region or wine maker? Had they tasted (and liked) the wine in the past?

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Next, we asked survey respondents to choose their favorite among three bottles of white wine. These wines ranged in price from about $10 to $80, but we didn’t disclose that. We asked them which factors contributed to their selection: the label’s look, the shape and color of the bottle, the perceived price, the vintage or wine maker, or a previous experience drinking the wine.

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When it comes to choosing between bottles of wine, it turns out looks really do matter: More than 80% of people picked a bottle of wine based on the label’s look, 65% chose based on how expensive they thought the wine looked, and just over half considered the shape and color of the bottle itself. The region factored in for nearly 60% of people.

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It’s the age-old question about wine: Do you prefer red or white? According to our survey, 6 in 10 people like red wine better than white. Nearly 7 in 10 men like red better, while women are almost equally split on the preference.

Of our red wine drinkers, 3 in 10 consider themselves somewhat knowledgeable about wine, while less than 2 in 10 white wine fans feel the same. Around 1 in 5 red wine devotees partake in a glass a couple of times a week, but almost 2 in 5 white wine drinkers say they only sip wine socially.

How much is each willing to spend? Red wine drinkers are willing to pay more (20% say they’ll pay $20 to $29 for a bottle), while white wine drinkers seek out lower price points (14% prefer to spend less than $10 on a bottle).

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When it comes to choosing wine, what matters most: perceived price, taste, or quality? For 65% of people, the perceived price of the wine is important. Just fewer than half of people think it’s good to opt for a tried-and-true bottle they’ve enjoyed in the past, while 42% believe the vintage matters.

Regardless of a wine’s actual price, bottles with certain features – for instance, embossed labels, gold foil, high-end graphics, or fancy font – may tend to look more expensive. And for someone who needs to quickly choose a bottle of wine to pour at a last-minute dinner party or give as a gift, choosing a bottle that appears elegant and pricey is appealing.

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Where do people shop for wine? Nearly half of our survey respondents buy their favorite bottles at the grocery store, almost 40% head to the liquor store, and just more than 10% visit a specialty wine store. Only a little more than 1.5% shop for wine online, 1% pick up a bottle at the drugstore, and fewer than 1% participate in a wine club.

Look Beyond the Label

Whether quirky, elegant, or artful, wine labels are a lot of fun to examine. But don’t let looks dictate your entire purchasing decision. After the first impression sinks in, read the label: Look for adjectives you know describe wines you like (think crisp, fruity, oaky, soft, or spicy). Ask for advice. Be adventurous – even if you strongly prefer red or white, it’s fun to taste something new. (Want to really go out on a limb? Try a rosé.)

And whether you’re buying wine to pair with a special meal or simply to sip with friends while you play board games, don’t worry if it’s not your favorite – after all, chances are there’s a new favorite wine around the corner, just waiting to be discovered.

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