Wine Connoisseurs 'Nosing' a Choice Market
By Kendra Clayton
I'm certain you've heard the expression, " ... like a fine wine," referring to something rare and extraordinary. But what, exactly, determines a fine wine? First, there's color and clarity. Second, a fine wine's aroma is scintillating and rich. Third comes the much-anticipated taste. It must be savored for the full body to come forth; a perfect balance of fruit, alcohol and acidity.
This process, used to determine a wine's worth, can be broadly applied across the market of its connoisseurs as well. Oenophiles, or wine connoisseurs, are a rare breed, made all the more difficult to hone in on thanks to the increasing popularity of wine.
Constellation Wines US recently completed a study, Project Genome: Understanding the DNA of the Premium Wine Consumer, in which it conducted more than 3,500 online interviews with individuals who had purchased at least $5 per 750 milliliters worth of wine in the previous three months. The results lead to six distinct segments: enthusiasts, image seekers, savvy shoppers, traditionalists, satisfied sippers and those who simply were overwhelmed. It determined that the upper echelon, enthusiasts, "are passionate about the entire wine experience—from researching what to buy to sharing it with friends and family." These prospects are ideal, but according to the study, they make up a mere 12 percent of the wine-buying population. However, they comprise 29 percent of the share of profits!
Kay Stephens, educational events director at Vineyard and Winery Management magazine and former director of database marketing for Windsor Vineyards, estimates that the much-sought-after connoisseurs are wealthy, professional, middle-aged men. Denise Greenberg, director of marketing at Name-Finders Lists Inc., manager of Windsor Vineyards' and Hennessy's Gourmet Wines lists, concurs, and adds that these connoisseurs typically sport incomes of $75,000 to $200,000.
As for the demographics skewing toward older men, Tammy Boatright, president of Windsor Vineyards and International Wine Accessories, says that's about to change. "I think a new trend is the growth in the wine industry and the popularity of wine among young consumers and particularly women." Project Genome shows that 60 percent of wine enthusiasts are female.