Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Why do we buy so much Aussie wine? Maybe it's all due to their crazy names

Northern Ireland's wine drinkers are voting with their wallets when it comes to the battle between Old and New World varieties, it seems.

And wines from countries such as Australia or Chile are often outselling more established European varieties, according to a number of local wine merchants.

A new report insists that Europe's wine industry must become more consumer-focused to compete with New World imports.

And producers have not paid enough attention to changes in wine drinking habits nor responded to the demands of new consumers, a House of Lords committee said.

The Lords EU Committee's European Wine report came in response to the European Commission's proposals for reform of the sector.

It said larger scale production was needed for the European wine industry to compete in the global market.

Charles Robb, from R&R Wine Merchants in Portadown, said: "I think we're about over 70% New World importers.

"We're massively into Australian in Northern Ireland.

"The Europeans, who are so good at designing and branding other products, seem to have lost the plot when it comes to wine labels.

"The Australians have given them wacky names that are easy to remember like Yellowtail, Wolf Blass, Jacob's Creek. They've really made wine accessible and fun."

He added, however: "I see more potential and growth with Italian wines than any other country into our market. We're about one of the only companies in Northern Ireland that are sourcing directly from Italy."

Steven Pattison from Belfast-based drinks merchant Drinks Inc said they would sell around 10 cases of New World wine for every one Old World.

"It's taken a while for the Northern Ireland consumer to really accept new styles," he said.

"If you go down south their education, generally, on wines is a lot more advanced.

"New World wines are a lot more accessible. The big thing is the grape variety issue, people who have tried a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Shiraz before and would like to try another.

"It's trying not to blind people with science. Wine isn't a difficult subject and it shouldn't be. Over the years people have forced it down people's necks that it has to be very serious.

"Northern Ireland wine drinkers are into big brands. They want quality, but like the safety of falling back on a brand they have heard of."

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