Vineyards and grape varieties: what is going on in wine professional and consumer minds?

Vineyard and grape variety are two popular ways of classifying wines. Vineyard designation is a traditional practice for European wine labels but is being increasingly replaced by grape variety designation, mainly used for New World and Swiss wine labels.

In a context of wine categorization, we investigated on the relationship between those two dimensions. For this purpose, we selected a set of 56 wine labels to represent three red grape varieties (Gamay, Pinot Noir and Gamaret) and three vineyards (Beaujolais, Burgundy and Switzerland). Three panels were recruited: a panel of 30 wine professionals (experts) from the Beaujolais vineyard, a panel of 30 wine consumers from the Beaujolais vineyard and a panel of 30 wine consumers from Lille, a French region without wine production. We used a free hierarchical sorting task on labels coupled with a verbalization task and an interview. Data were first analyzed separately for each panel using a Hierarchical Multiple Factor Analysis and a Hierarchical Ascending Classification.

Results showed that the three panels yielded very similar wine groups. With the exception of Gamaret wines, most French wines were separated by both vineyard and grape variety while Swiss wines were separated by grape varieties. Despite this similar categorization pattern, the interviews revealed different sorting criteria and strategies used to sort the labels for each panel. With the exception of a small part of experts, both experts and consumers from Beaujolais used their knowledge of grape varieties and vineyards to sort the wine labels while the consumers from Lille simply read the labels to find clues and deduce wine groups, because of a lack of knowledge.

Overall, the results indicate an interaction between vineyard and grape variety dimensions for the wine categorization by experts and consumers. The methodology proposed seems to be a promising tool that could be helpful to improve the promotion of wines.

Authors: Carole HONORÉ-CHEDOZEAU (1,2), Maud LELIÈVRE-DESMAS (3), Jordi BALLESTER (1), Sylvie CHOLLET (3), Bertrand CHATELET (2), Dominique VALENTIN (1)

(1) UMR CSGA 6265 CNRS, INRA, UBFC, 9E Boulevard Jeanne d’Arc, 21000 Dijon, France
(2) SICAREX Beaujolais, 210 Boulevard Victor Vermorel, CS 60320, 69661 Villefranche sur Saône Cedex, France
(3) ISA Lille, Institut Charles VIOLLETTE (ICV) EA 7394, 59000 Lille, France


Keywords: vineyards, grape varieties, mental representation, wine labels, experts, consumers

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