For inexperienced wine drinkers, choosing a bottle of wine from the masses is plagued by far too many choices and complicated further by the dos and don’ts of wine culture. Wine buffs and experts turn wine drinking into a fine art, but elevating wine to such heights puts it out of reach of many, particularly young adults.
Although wine has grown in popularity among 20-25-year-old Brits in the last decade, many are put off from experimenting with wine out of a fear of its complexity. An international study by VINEXPO, organiser of the world’s biggest wine and spirit exhibition, is prompting winemakers and retailers to make a bigger effort to interest young adults in a bid to overcome wine’s complex image.
VINEXPO’s research found that the younger generation want to have a better understanding of wine. They perceive wine drinking as refined, cultivated and an aspirational part of growing up. The study groups in the UK, Belgium, France, the US and Japan commented that they wanted to be able to drink wine like older people, while others said wine drinking was associated with more reasonable behaviour and sophisticated enjoyment.
However, there are many obstacles holding back young adults from appreciating wine. The whole culture of wine and matching wine with food is confusing: there are so many grapes, so many kinds and styles of wine, so many countries, regions, labels and brands.
The respondents believe that good wine is too expensive, they feel that the wine culture and vocabulary excludes them, they experience a lack of understanding of the many different wines and wine styles, and are bewildered by choice and confusing labels.
Among other obstacles quoted is the length of time and perseverance required to learn how to appreciate wine: it is almost viewed as an art that must be studied.
When asked for their recommendations, the research group suggested clear positioning on taste features and explanations about how wine matches with food. They also suggested that retailers and bars should offer wine sections for young adults, while some suggested wines that are marketed more directly at young people through trendier names and bottle designs.
Wine drinking among young adults around the world varies immensely. In France and Belgium, wine becomes a part of everyday life in childhood and as a result young people have a greater understanding of wine. In the UK, young adults are slowly becoming more familiar with wine, but there is still a lack of general acceptance within the younger generations.
In the US and Japan, wine drinking among young adults is reserved for special occasions. US respondents indicated not only that they are not very familiar with wine, but that wine consumption and knowledge were features of European culture.
For young adults who are cautious of dipping their taste buds into the vast pool of wine on the market, the best thing they can do is try, try and try again and don’t listen to those stuffy wine buffs too much. Wine knowledge comes only with time and experimentation: studying has never been so enjoyable.