The Oenophiliac

A Wine Writers View on the World of Wine. Formerly Magics Wine Guide and Reviews for Newbies

My Thoughts. What is it that dictates how we buy?


I am someone who has worked in retail since the age of 13. I have become very intrigued by the psychology of consumer purchasing.

I appreciate that it’s an individual subjective thing but what makes us buy what we buy and how do we choose?

From a social outlook we have become driven by media and celebrity. Quite frankly It drives me nuts.

Fashion, for example, is dictated by what some guy or girl has drawn up in a studio and says looks good. Consumers will follow and get hooked by what they see.

In my opinion, like so many thing, Fashion is false advertising really. It’s a small collectives opinion that has mass implications. The result being is you generally base what you buy on, what others say looks good, what the media’s focus is on and labels.

It’s almost a social indictment on what you should do. It’s an elitist approach to get as much money out of you whilst playing to the public’s insecurities about getting one up on the Jones’s. The best way to not feel disadvantaged is to follow the media and celebrity. We may not be able to afford it but we want it because someone says we must have it to be cool, and if you can’t have it, then you are not cool. Social insecurities. How about this for a novel idea? We make our own minds up.

The beauty of wine is it’s agricultural. One years vintage may not be as good as the following years. Depending on the weather you won’t be able to create wine that will taste the same year in year out. No one in a studio can dictate the out come.

Wine is more a labour of love. Those of us in the profession study the vine. We love it and we talk about it. We understand it. On the other hand, the general consumer doesn’t.

With clothes you can walk into a store and if need be try it on. If it looks good and feels right, you buy it. Even better if it’s got a label on it.

Wine is different. The consumer, if they can get it, needs specialist advice. You can’t try wine on.

In England, wine isn’t really a part of our heritage. Unlike our continental cousins wine is something that is taught from a young age. It’s part of the family ritual and it’s there to be appreciated. We might not touch wine until we get to our mid teens. After all beer is cheaper and available in larger quantities at a fraction of the cost. When we do, what are our reference points for buying? The media or the advice of wine merchants?

The TV wine critic is a bit of an enigma to me. Yes it’s great for these people to express their passion for wine and yes it’s great for them to be showcasing wines but I do think they tend to forget who they are talking to.

I remember watching, the now defunct, Food and Drink TV show. Oz Clarke and Jilly Goolden would be spouting their opinions about the wines they were reviewing. As much as I enjoyed this I never understood what the hell they were talking about. Jump forward several years where we now have Saturday Kitchen. One or two of the wine experts, like those before them, tend to drift off into a world of their own. I as a wine professional now understand them but they’re not trying to sell to me. They’re trying to sell to the general public. So with all the glorious tecnicolour descriptions being spewed forth, what are the public learning from this, apart from these guys ‘know’ a lot about wine?

Wine is becoming a lot more commercial but still very much misunderstood by the public. If I had a pound for every time someone walked in and asked me for anything but Chardonnay, then preceded to pick up a bottle of Chablis, I’d have retired by now. FYI, Chablis is always 100% Chardonnay.

Pinot Grigio is a wine that I’ve seen being mentioned in films or TV shows probably more than any other variety in recent years. It has become a trend wine. The thing with it, as much as I like the additional exposure the variety maybe getting, it doesn’t tell people what the wine is about. Next to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio is my largest selling single variety in store. The general consumers idea of the wine is it’s light and refreshing. Which is true but that is just the generic style that retailers place on their shelves. It suits the English palate. Those of us in the know will show Pinot Grigio to be a lot more than that.

In Alsace, the home to Pinot Grigio or to give it it’s proper name Pinot Gris, it is known as one of the aromatics, alongside Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Riesling. Big on the nose and big on the palate.

As consumers we all have preconceptions about products, even before we have tried them.

We will look at items based on labels, cost, personal budget. With wine, a lot of people will go with what they know and the myth of ‘if it’s expensive then it ‘must’ be good.’ A quick learning point here is that the cost of a bottle of wine doesn’t guarantee its quality. There are a lot of things that go into deciding the price of a bottle ranging from regional controls, yield, methodology eg organic – bio-dynamic etc.

Here’s a small experiment. I’m going to show you four wines. I want you to –

Pick one wine that you would buy and why?

Pick one wine that you wouldn’t buy and why?

When you have done this please leave your post, with your reason, in the comments box. I sell all four wines and have tried them all. I have picked these wines based on a personal criteria. I’ll be interested to see how close your answers will come to mine.

Tamboerskloof Syrah. South Africa. £18.99.

Louis Jadot Macon. Burgundy. France. £9.99.

Domaine Thibert Les Cras Pouilly Fuisse. Burgundy. France. £19.99.

Lois Gruner Veltliner. Austria. £9.99.

Enjoy.

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One comment on “My Thoughts. What is it that dictates how we buy?

  1. Victor Tsang
    November 22, 2014

    I will buy Les Cras. It is from a few parcels of grapes from designated vineyards. I has oak but at the same time has very fresh fruits.

    I will not buy Louis Jadot village wine. Jadot is a negotiant and just collect grapes from growers. I may buy its wines with designated crus only.

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This entry was posted on June 7, 2011 by in Magics Scribblings..

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