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‘Terroir…Is that a dog?’ Survey exposes wine knowledge

From planet Sauternes to those cute ‘terroir’ dogs, a new survey in the UK suggests Britons have room for improvement in their wine knowledge - but many say they are keen to learn.

Wine experts have grappled with a definition of ‘terroir’ for decades, but more than one in four Britons surveyed thought that it referred to a small breed of dog, according to results published this week.

While 34% did correctly connect ‘terroir’ to wine, another 30% of respondents believed it was a type of French horror film.

Their answers were part of a survey of 2,000 people commissioned by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust ahead of its upcoming Wine Education Week, which runs globally from 9 to 15 September.

There was also confusion about Bordeaux’s premier sweet wines.

Seven percent of people said that Sauternes was a planet, while one in five thought it was a beach resort and 29% argued that it was a type of orange.

When it comes to spotting a corked wine, 37% of people thought it meant broken pieces of cork in the bottle and 7% thought it was a term for being drunk.

Thirst for knowledge

However, 51% of people said they wanted to learn more about wine, reflecting a separate survey recently that saw wine beat beer, cider and spirits as the UK’s favourite drink.

Ian Harris, CEO of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, said, ‘With a whole world of wine out there to discover, it’s hardly surprising that there are gaps in the nation’s knowledge, or that the prospect of learning more might feel intimidating.

‘It’s encouraging, though, to see that so many Britons are keen to gain more knowledge about one of their favourite drinks – and Wine Education Week is the perfect time to do just that.’

Food pairing

When it comes to food, 28% of those surveyed said they had successfully paired specific wines with certain dishes. However, 55% said that they wouldn’t know where to start with wine and food pairing.

And 17% of respondents said that they had been ‘traumatised by snooty wine waiters’, said WSET.

The top reason for choosing a wine was ‘I had drunk it before and loved it’, with 34% choosing this description – closely followed by 33% admitting they choose a wine based on ‘an attractive label’.

The WSET said that it would be running a series of interactive events for its Wine Education Week. The group recently celebrated its 50th anniversary by reporting record student numbers worldwide.

See also: The 10 rules of food and wine pairing


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