Riesling yet to shine in UK, says survey

10 March, 2008

Riesling still has some way to go before it is accepted by the masses, while sales of Pinot Grigio may have hit their peak, according to the results of a consumer survey.

Although Pinot Grigio has been tipped by many to become the most popular white grape variety, findings from the study of the drinking habits of 1,000 wine drinkers - expected to be released later this week - show a minimal rise in the number of people who have drunk it in the past six months.

In June 2006, 41 per cent said they had drunk Pinot Grigio between then and January that year. The figure rose to 51 per cent in June 2007 for the same period. However, six months later it had risen just 1 per cent to 52 per cent.

Riesling, although loved by many in the trade, is not yet as popular with consumers compared to other varieties. Despite efforts by trade bodies such as Wines of Germany to boost the image of Riesling in the UK, the findings reveal that only 20 per cent of people claim to have drunk it in the past six months.

However, a spokeswoman for Wines of Germany said the figure should not be seen as a negative. She said sales of German wine above £5 were growing in the UK compared to other countries, and a recent tasting tour of universities revealed younger drinkers did not have the same negative view of German wine as those in their 40s and 50s.

"We have done lots of consumer sampling in the UK and we think it's really making head-way for higher priced wines like Riesling. Volumes are going down in the under £4 category, but we've found that for people that pay a bit more for their wine and go to wine clubs, that Riesling is a key focus for them. When you look at the stats for Riesling, sales are actually improving," she said.

The survey, carried out by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association with Wine Intelligence, is based on a monthly online survey of 1,000 consumers. It also found that Chardonnay, thought to have fallen out of favour with wine drinkers, is actually still drunk by three quarters of those who were surveyed.

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