As the UK population increases and ages, Old World wine producers will regain ground lost to the New World, according to Vinexpo research.

Market researchers Wine Intelligence, commissioned by the Vinexpo Organisation, interviewed 980 wine drinkers in England, Ireland and Scotland. Their study, they say, is the first ever research to look at the influence of the stages of life, and lifestyle, on drinking patterns.

The research – presented by Vinexpo CEO Robert Beynat – shows that as people get older they tend to gravitate more towards red wine, and more towards the Old World. The researchers extrapolate from this that as population trends in the UK show a significant increase in the over-55 population, there will be much more Old World wine consumed in the UK over the next 20 years.

As well as this, wine consumption will increase, but wine drinkers are likely to become less adventurous in their choices, and will become less ‘impressionable’ – ie less likely to listen to the opinions of wine commentators.

The research also found that contrary to popular opinion, people may become more not less adventurous as they move into middle age. It was found there are two ages of experimentation. After an adventurous phase between 20 and 30, the wine drinker’s repertoire solidifies. But adventurous behaviour returns in the early-to-mid-50s.

‘If you are a wine merchant, you need to target both these groups,’ Wine Intelligence research director Lulie Halstead said.

Having children also has a significant effect on your wine consumption. The research found that married, or cohabiting, couples with children became more conservative in their tastes, more price sensitive and ‘less involved’ in wine.

But couples in the same age groups without children were ‘very choosy, saw wine as an important extension of self, and were less likely to worry about price.’

Finally, it was found that divorce made people drink less wine – and it made you more price sensitive.

The research was carried out in two stages, quantitative and qualitative. For the first stage 980 people were contacted online in January 2003. Secondly, four focus groups were held in February 2003.

The following ‘life stage’ groups were identified for the survey: single, under 45, no child; married, under 45, no child; married, under 45, young child; married, child between 6 and 20; married, 45-64, child over 20; divorced or separated; married, 45-64, no child; seniors (65 and over).

Written by Adam Lechmere11 April 203