The Problem with Pinot Grigio

the problem with pinot grigio

What problem, you may ask? Entry level Pinot Grigio sells brilliantly. It’s the default choice for wine drinkers the length and breadth of the country. It brings people into the wine category. It’s wildly successful. There is no problem.

If it ain’t broke…

All very good points and we could do nothing but embrace its popularity and count the money in the tills at the end of the night. Or we could try and spice things up. Think back to the early 1990s and the days when coffee was white or black and came with one lump or two. A time before Starbucks came along with a new language of grande, skinny hazelnut lattes that personalised the coffee drinking experience, and invited consumers to experiment and reinvent their relationship with the product.

Until Starbucks challenged the way consumers interacted with coffee everyone thought the category was doing just fine. There was no problem. Suddenly Seattle coffee culture arrived and opened up a brave new world of higher sales and happier customers.

Entice the consumer to explore

We need to try and create a similar game changing idea for wine, a way of inviting consumers to break the habits of a lifetime and explore our products. We need a way of communicating that adds value to the consumer’s experience and adds profit to our industry.

We know many entry level Pinot Grigio drinkers order it because it is safe. It is a default option, reliable if unexciting. We also know that if you offer them something with a similar flavour profile the chances are they will love it far more than their usual Pinot Grigio.

If you like Pinot Grigio, you might like…

The options are almost endless: Picpoul, Gruner Veltliner and Albarino spring immediately to mind. All these examples share Pinot Grigio’s freshness, crispness and thirst-quenching style but they do so with more intensity, more zest and more excitement. They open a door for consumers, inviting them to discover something new and different; to become a Picpoul fan rather than just a white wine drinker.

The challenge is presenting these alternatives in a way that engages the consumer and persuades them that wine can be exciting. If we can do this, we can ensure more consumers stay in the category spending money on more profitable wines. We can improve customer experiences, increase margins, support smaller producers and go a long way to future proof our industry.

Our Taste Test survey is a step in the right direction. It allows consumers to find out their flavour profile and understand why they like what they like, and highlights different wines they will like. The results can help them navigate a wine merchant’s shelves or a restaurant’s wine list, providing simple signposts to their next amazing bottle of wine.

Fiona Cochran
13th November 2013

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