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ThirtyFifty - Hens

Vote in our Wine Poll

Every month we ask a topical question to either test your knowledge or seek your opinion. To take part in this month's poll simply click on one of the multi-choice answers on the poll below. The latest results will be revealed.

Which one of the following do you prefer to drink when going out?

Previous Wine Poll Results

What are the UK Safe Drinking Guidelines?

Poll ran May 2018

Women 14 units, Men 14 units 24%
Women 14 units, Men 21 units 75%
Women 21 units, Men 21 units 1%

Comment by Chris Scott:

If you think you know the answer then you are in a minority. The UK current guidelines are 14 units for women and 14 units for men.

With over three quarters of the UK population not knowing the guidelines, despite it being promoted on many beverage bottles, the government’s position can at best be described as ineffective. 75% of the population incorrectly identified 14 units for women and 21 units for men. This was government guidelines until the chief medical officer Sally Davies came to power and she changed them 2 years ago. Since then this poll has shown that she has failed to communicate what the new guidelines.

The radical change that Sally Davies introduced was to limit both men and women to the same number of units. This is unheard of in the rest of the world and gives the UK one of the lowest guidelines for men in the world.  No wonder the Brits go to Spain for a holiday: There the government guidelines are 35 units for men (2.5 times higher) and 21 units for women.

Given the UK is so out of line with the rest of the world it is no wonder that the UK drinker does not know what the government message is.

Do you think wine bottles need more labelling information?

Poll ran February 2018

No, there is enough info already 61%
Yes, better labelling for vegan and vegetarian wines 7%
Yes, more on alcohol consumption/units 4%
Yes, nutritional information and calorie content 28%

Comment by Chris Scott:

With 61% of respondents happy with the current information on a bottle it would appear that everything is alright. But a sizeable 28% of people would like to have more nutritional information. This is a significant factor, and with wine having roughly 630 calories per bottle or 210 calories in a large glass of wine, a glass is about the same as a Mars Bar or a boiled egg with soldiers.

It is estimated that around 2% of the UK population is vegetarian according to the NHS website. With 7% wanting more information on bottles, it certainly looks like vegetarians would like more information. Currently there are many wines that are suitable for vegetarians but they are simply not labelled as such. The problem with labelling is that some vegetarians may consider egg whites, which the wine occasional passes through, are suitable for vegetarians, but some would consider this inappropriate. Vegans are even more varied, some may consider biodynamic wine as suitable, however the need to bury cow horns in the vineyard would exclude a number of vegans. The varied nature of vegans and vegetarians mean that a simple label may work for some, but not others and a list of what is used in the winery may not be adequate for all. Only 4% think more information is required on alcohol units. This could be because people find the current information useful. They may have lost faith in the extreme views of the UK's Chief Medical Officer and have given up on the government guidelines, or simply don't care. Either way there seems little demand for more information about alcohol.

In the current economic climate are you cutting back or spending more on wine?

Poll ran Oct 2011

Answer Oct 12 Oct 11 Feb 11 May 10 Apr 09 Oct 08
Cutting back on how much you are spending on each wine 11% 10% 12% 9% 17% 5%
Cutting back on the amount of wine drunk 15% 18% 12% 19% 12% 10%
Spending more 17% 20% 12% 16% 13% 9%
Spending the same 52% 52% 63% 56% 59% 76%

Comment by Chris Scott:

The last time we ran the poll in October 2011 those claiming to be cutting back on the amount drunk was at 18% so this has dropped back a little to 15%. Added together, cutting back on both volume and value is 26% of respondents, with 58% spending the same. 17% are spending more compared to 20% a year ago in October 2011.

While last October the big number changes led me to conclude that the economy was in flux, this time we are heading to a more average result for this questions and suggests that people have adjusted to their new spending habits, and the changes are probably associated with a normal wine market.

In our wine tasting business, where the majority of the poll results are gathered from, we feel that things are starting to even out. Less huge swings where a market would dry up for a year then come roaring back the next, while another segment dried up. Things feel like they are settling down with less change. Adjustments have been made, time to have a glass of wine and say cheers.

The green debate and climate change are hot topics in the wine industry. Have you changed the way you buy wine to help reduce your carbon footprint?

Poll ran April 2012

Answer 2008 2012
No, I don't think about it in relation to wine 57% 67%
Not at all, I don't think it will make any difference in the long term 3% 6%
Yes, a little but the information available on the carbon footprint of wine is extremely limited. 24% 16%
Yes, completely, I do everything I can to reduce my carbon footprint when shopping 1% 2%
Yes, quite a bit, I think about it a lot and try to buy products I know are 'environmentally friendly' 15% 8%

Comment by Chris Scott:

Environmentally agriculture is a massive user of resources of both water and in the form of fuel but more importantly in creating and using fertilisers and sprays. As such wine, a relatively luxurious good, has a very large environmental footprint. Whether it is those appalling heavy bottles used by wineries to give the impression of quality at the expense of the environment. But also in the way the wine is produced.

While many think the organic wines are environmentally friendly it is about the soil not the climate. There is nothing stopping “organics” using helicopters to spray so they don’t compact the earth. Great for your organic wines appalling for the environment.

The other classic environmental belief is to buy local. English grapes need a lot of sprays to keep the moulds and mildew at bay while if you purchased a Chilean wine the ideal conditions mean little if any sprays are used, certainly offsetting the extra carbon associated with shipping.

The results are much worse than the last time we asked this question in February 2008 Back then 2% said they did a lot to reduce their carbon foot print now only 1% claimed this.

Responses to “Yes, quite a bit, I think about it a lot and try to buy products I know are 'environmentally friendly'” again halved from 15% to 8% now.

Results were also down from 24% in 2008 to 15% now to “Yes, a little but the information available on the carbon footprint of wine is extremely limited”. The only gainers are those who don’t think about the environment.

“No not all” up from 3% to 6%. While those who don’t think about the environment was again up form 57% to 67%.

In the last four years since we asked this question it would seem that we have changed in our environmental views with significantly less people concerned about the environment and the influence wine has on it. This is a real shame. At the least drinkers should be shunning wines that come in heavy bottles, and buy wines from relatively dry continental environments where summer rainfall can be lower.

The poll had 170 entries

Which is the best indicator of quality when buying wine ?

Poll ran February 2012

Answer 2012
Alcohol Content 1%
Price 36%
Top Wine Region 33%
Well Known Producer 30%

Comment by Chris Scott:

Not many people rated alcohol content as a key indicator of quality, and I suppose that’s not too surprising, but then many people may think a bottle labelled Bordeaux Superior is better quality than a bottle of normal Bordeaux, when it’s actually just got a tad more alcohol in the wine. It also gives an indication of the terroir and if one producer has a wine with a slightly higher alcohol content than it’s competition it’s an indication that it’s from a slightly warmer region and is perhaps producing slightly better grapes. Wines with a higher alcohol content are also richer. So if you’re comparing 3 bottles of wine from the same region and one of them has a touch more alcohol than the others I might go for that one.

Price can also be an indicator of wines and 36% of people thought so. But the problem is many people base their assessment on the highly manipulated prices you see in supermarkets. Here price and quality can be completely confused as supermarkets try and convince you that one wine that sells all its volume at half price is really worth twice the price they’re asking. As long as you don’t get hooked into looking for a bargain and shop at reputable shops and not supermarkets (who play silly games) then price can be an indicator of quality or scarcity. I personally think that once you get a bottle priced £20 or over the price/quality relationship breaks down quite quickly and price is driven more by supply and demand. So in certain shops at certain price points it can be true.

33% of people thought a top wine region offers a good indicator of quality. But if you compare a mid-priced burgundy pinot with a similar priced pinot from New Zealand the New Zealand wine will kill it bang for buck everytime. So while a region can be an indicator of quality it’s not an indicator of value. And the more famous the region is usually the lower the value is. But the question was “Which of the following is the best indicator of quality when buying wines ?”, so the question is about quality and not value. In which case ignoring seasonal variations such as a bad summer the region can be a good indicator of quality.

And similar to regions 30% of people thought that a well known producer often makes consistently good wine. Afterall that’s why they’re famous, although some can be quite infamous. But again, the more well known a producer is the less likely they are to provide value but in consequence they are known because they do produce good quality wines.

The poll had 121 entriess

In the current economic climate are you cutting back or spending more on wine?

Poll ran Oct 2011

Answer Oct 11 Feb 11 May 10 Apr 09 Oct 08
Cutting back on how much you are spending on each wine 10% 12% 9% 17% 5%
Cutting back on the amount of wine drunk 18% 12% 19% 12% 10%
Spending more 20% 12% 16% 13% 9%
Spending the same 52% 63% 56% 59% 76%

Comment by Chris Scott:

This poll has been run regularly since Oct 2008. With 20% spending more, it is the largest increase since the poll began in Oct 2008. But with 18% cutting back on the amount drunk, the second highest and well above the typical 10-12% it shows that people are still concerned about how much is being consumed. In the wine world spending more on less is a worthy goal. But I think it more likely shows that the economy is in flux. With 52% not consciously changing how much they spend on wine, the lowest so far, many people are being affected by the economy..

The poll had 83 entriess

Which one of the following is most useful when buying wine?

Poll ran June 2011

Answer June 2011 July 2009
Recommendations from friends 64% 65%
Wine columns in the weekend newspapers or food & wine magazines 24% 23%
Online wine websites 7% 8%
Published wine guide books 6% 4%

Comment by Chris Scott:

I am amazed at how consistent the results are compared to two years ago. Only changing by 1% at most between July 2009 and June 2011. The results are "recommendations from friends" which hasn’t changed at 64%, "wine columns in newspapers and magazines" is up 1% to 24% with "online websites" down 1% to 7% and "published wine books" up 2% to 6%.

Such small changes doesn’t say much for the likes of twitter and facebook. Two years ago neither were anywhere near as big as they are now. So I would have expected "recommendation from friends" to go up.
New online wine recommendation sites appear all the time. So again I would have expected "recommendation from websites" to go up at the cost of a newspaper or guidebooks. But no, things haven’t moved on much at all. It makes you wonder how important social media is for the sale of wine ?. The wine press appears to think it is important but this survey implies it is not.

My advice last time we ran this poll is still consistent whatever your source of information. It’s important that whoever you are taking advice from has a similar taste to yours. If they like big tannic monsters and you prefer softer rounded wines, then you need to question their suitability to recommend wines for you. The advantage of following media types in wine recommendations is that they have tried a massive range of wines and if their tastes are similar to yours you can experiment with confidence.

At the end of the day, one person’s advice is as good as another’s if they have similar likes to you, but for truly unusual wines you need a book or an expert to guide you.

The poll had 94 entriess

Should alcohol units and calories be declared on the front labels of wine?

Poll ran April 2011

Answer April 2011 Sept 2007
Just the number of alcohol units 43% 39%
Just the calories 1% 2%
Both the alcohol units and the calories 30% 37%
Neither 26% 23%

Comment by Chris Scott:

Last time we ran this poll 77% wanted the alcohol on bottles and 39% wanted calories now 73% want alcohol units on a bottle and 44% want calories, these are reasonably stable numbers and shows that some people would like calories, on the bottles. Like many things once the change has happened support will increase as some people will start to use it and those who don’t use it, will realise it doesn’t hurt them.

As a person who has been starting to track my calories to get the spare tyre around my waste to deflate a bit I am now looking at calories quite a bit more. A bottle of dry red wine has around 510 calories which is a fifth of my daily calorie count. Higher for someone not so big as me. If I drank half a bottle, my maximum under government guidelines I would be consuming around 10% of by calories for the day or 255 calories. To give you perspective a McDonald’s cheese burger is 330 calories. These are significant numbers and they should be on display. I don’t think they are as important as alcohol units, but they are important.

The poll had 188 entries