Serious Grape: Women and Wine

On Fridays, Deb Harkness of Good Wine Under $20 drops by with Serious Grape.


Photograph from rolands.lakis on Flickr

An international study of more than 4,300 wine-drinking women has revealed the following: Women buy wine because they like how it tastes and it goes well with food.

Shocking, isn't it?

Apparently the wine pundits thought we bought wine because it was fashionable and good for our health. Instead, they discovered that in the United Kingdom women buy eight out of ten bottles of wine purchased—and what they care about is taste and price. Robert Beynat, a spokesman for the world's largest wine exhibition and one of the partners involved in the research, VinExpo, commented as following on the study's results: "The message for wine marketers is clear: cherchez la femme if you want to sell."

Cherchez la femme? You've got to be kidding.

I don't know about you, but I find the whole notion that you have to beware of women wine consumers because we don't buy wine as a fashion accessory or a diet aid a bit demeaning. I'm a woman who buys wine, and I've never tried to match it to my shoes. So what are they so worried about? Let's look at the results and see.

Women in France, Germany, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. took part in the survey. The results for women in the U.K. reveal that women 55 percent of women prefer red wine to white wine, a whopping 91 percent associate drinking wine with meals, and 33 percent drink wine in the bathtub. nine out of ten bottles of wine purchased by women come from supermarkets and shops that specialize in wine. In other words, women buy and consume wine just like men—with the possible exception of the bathtub.

What's the wine industry to do, now that they know that women aren't a specialized market?

Well, I'm hoping the study's findings makes executives think twice before they pay for an insulting advertising campaign directed at women that makes us out to be clueless, waistline-obsessed wine-swilling divas. I hope we see less cutesy wine labels with cuddly animals. And I fervently pray that the next time I order the wine in a restaurant, I'm the one offered a taste of it, instead of the waiter pouring it into the glass belonging to the man at the table. And I really hope this is the last study of this kind I see.

But all is not lost. The best news was that an average of 44 percent of women surveyed across the world felt confident about buying wine, leaving Mr. Beynat to conclude that "The role of women in wine buying and the depth of their knowledge has been vastly underestimated."

Sadly, I don't find that shocking at all. Do you?