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How to Make it Easier to Choose a Wine

The problem with wine is that most people don’t care about it. The wine industry faces a challenge with falling consumption, more competition from other beverages, and changing lifestyles. So what can be done to make it easier to choose a wine?

I was listening to an interview with Dr Sheena Iyengar of Columbia Business School, who has spent years studying how we make choices. In an experiment she carried out using jam they found that when the choice was large, 24 jams on display in a gourmet shop, more people stopped, however, when there were only 6 jams on display, less people stopped by the stand more of them made purchases. This is fascinating because the study showed that choice can be both exciting and at the same time limiting.

When it comes to choosing a wine in a supermarket, wine shop or from a restaurant wine list, the choice can be overwhelming. The paradox of choice when it comes to wine is that while a large selection generates interest, when it comes to making a choice we want the decision to be easy. Consequently, when there is too much to choose from we often do not choose anything.

How to make choosing a wine exciting rather than overwhelming? At the point of sale having relevant information for the occasion, ‘If you having pasta tonight, try this wine’ or ‘Try this new wine that has just arrived, it goes great with …’; suggestions and nudges to engage with the consumer.

Whether it be in a store or in a restaurant friendly, informed staff who can initiate conversations to make customers feel at ease and help them choose, would have a major impact in making choosing and drinking wine a more enjoyable, fun experience.

People travel more than ever which indicates that they are looking for new experiences. I was speaking to a friend the other day who had recently returned from Croatia and he was excited about having tasted new wines, yet in his normal routine he does not buy wine. How to engage with consumers and get them to trying something different. A bottle of wine has to have a compelling story and enjoyable experience.

Why are restaurant wine lists so boring, meaning lists of words? Would it not be better if they used images, better descriptions using tempting, playful words to get people to try wine. Having shorter lists is a way of offering more choice rather than less because it is easier to improve the choice and keep it exciting.

For the lunch time customers a bottle of wine is too much so have a list of wines to have by the glass, served in prefect condition, that go with the menu. Make offers to create interest and get people to experiment with something new.

When will it become more acceptable here in Spain to offer good quality wine in different formats not just 75cl bottles? For example, a 2L Bag in Box is ideal to put in the fridge it will preserve the wine for weeks.

Just some food for thought.

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I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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