Varietal NZ Thumbnail 1 - Flavour of the age

As we grow older, so our tastes in wine change – or at least how we like to describe them

How should we describe the style and flavour of wine to consumers? What descriptors appeal to them and which varietals rank amongst their favourites? These are the questions we set out to answer in our latest report, Flavour and varietal preference in the New Zealand wine market. On the back of similar research in Australia, we were eager to see how Kiwi tastes diverged – if at all – from their fellow antipodeans.

For this investigation, we divided common wine descriptors into two groups – ‘style’ descriptors and ‘flavour’ descriptors. Style descriptors express the general structure and body of a wine, whether it be crisp, fresh, juicy or bold. Flavour descriptors are those that describe more specific wine characteristics such as tropical fruit or blackberry.

When it comes to style descriptors for white wine, we discovered that New Zealand regular wine drinkers find style indictors that suggest ‘approachability’ (smooth, easy drinking and fruity) when balanced by ‘fresh and crisp’ indicators the most appealing. This attitude is mirrored when we examine red wine too; drinkers in New Zealand report that red wine is appealing when described as having a balance between an approachable style (smooth, easy drinking and fruity) and fuller flavours (full bodied and rich). In the case of both red and white wine, the appeal of the style descriptors is consistent for both men and women.

When examining more detailed flavour descriptors for white wine, fleshy, green flavours that are reflective of Sauvignon Blanc, rank as more appealing than descriptors that infer either floral or oaky characteristics. However, male wine drinkers in New Zealand do find secondary and tertiary descriptors more appealing for white than women do, suggesting that men are more open to a broader range of white wine styles. In addition, younger drinkers are more motivated by flavour descriptors for white wine in general than older drinkers, suggesting a requirement for more guidance when it comes to selecting wine.

For red wine, although heavier styles of red wine are not as appealing, male wine drinkers in New Zealand do find style descriptors that suggest stronger, heavier style wines (bold and spicy) more appealing than women. These heavier styles of red wine also appeal more to older drinkers, while younger drinkers find lighter styles more appealing. In terms of more detailed flavour descriptors, darker and fuller fruit flavours are the most appealing for red wine amongst drinkers in New Zealand. Overall, younger wine drinkers are more influenced by flavour descriptors for red wine than older drinkers, suggesting they are looking for more description and reassurance when selecting wine and paralleling their view of white wine.

Our research goes on to illustrate consumer preference for specific flavour descriptors, broken down by age and gender, painting a true picture of consumer tastes. This invaluable insight offers a wide range of practical implications, from product development to marketing copy. Click here for more information about our Flavour and varietal preference in the New Zealand wine market 2017 report.

Author: Ben Luker