Anthony Rose: Average, or out of the ordinaire?

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Are you an average wine-drinker? Perish the thought. Supposing for a moment that you were, though, you'd mostly drink at home, spend £4.92 on a bottle of wine, £7.19 on a wine that's bought as a gift and £15.20 when you're eating out in a restaurant. So a recently published report into the attitudes and behaviour of wine drinkers, called "Living Wine", tells us. Then again, says the survey, average or not, men and women come from different planets when it comes to their attitudes to wine. Women shop at Tesco, men at Majestic; you knew that.

According to the report, men are more confident, have a stronger tendency to be "wine buffs", spend more and are very health-conscious. In contrast, "wine is more central to women's lives", and women tend to be more price- but less brand-sensitive. How compatible are these two statements? Maybe women don't bore for Britain but just get on quietly with filling their glasses and drinking the stuff. I was surprised to discover though that men are more health-conscious than women. Not in my experience, nor, I imagine, that of Holmes Place, the health club group, which has a ratio of 60:40 female to male membership.

The wine buff tendency in men certainly rings true. Profiles on wine collectors typically feature men and their magnificent cellars. But then men are more inclined to collect and list the strangest things. How many women train spotters are there? Although Jancis Robinson famously chose a wine cellar as her desert island luxury, women quoted on the subject are usually the long-suffering partner having to put up with the ever-expanding male cellar and accompanying accessories. For some homespun gender-stereotyping of my own, it's obvious that the cellar is an extension of the male ego, in the same way as the need to possess a Ferrari is an extension of the male, um, ego. For the record, I have a VW Polo.

According to the report, the UK is the world's biggest consumer market among non-wine-producing countries and two-thirds of people say they drink more wine than they used to. Thirty-somethings, it seems, are more adventurous and prepared to buy on impulse and spend more. For the over-45s, wine becomes more of an everyday affair, and we get altogether more picky about the wines we do and don't like, choosing wines more on style, ie grape variety and region, than on price. Getting married and getting older also makes us splash out more, especially into red wines and the New World.

It seems that our attitudes change along with major upheavals in our lives. Having children means trading down without cutting back on consumption, getting divorced or separated makes us more price-sensitive and we lose our appetite for wine.

If we do live in a wine culture, we still have a funny way of showing it: "41 per cent said that price is not the most important purchasing criterion". This suggests that price is still the most important factor for 59 per cent of people, which says as much about our shopping habits as our social skills.

Let's be grateful at least that none of this stereotyping applies to the urbane, independent-minded wine drinker who reads this newspaper.

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