Selecting the perfect Bordeaux for dinner parties has become a competitive sport, according to a new survey, which found that British men use their choice of wine to score points with their guests.
Wine snobbery has become rife at domestic gatherings with the hosts now taking great pride in their choice of bottle.
The study of 1,500 tipplers, conducted by Côtes du Rhône Wines, found that over a quarter (28 per cent) of men now very consciously serve wines to their guests that are designed to create an impression.
Women, it appears, do not share that competitive streak. Just 18 per cent said they select a wine to create a talking point.
Choosing the right Riesling requires practice at home. Almost three quarters (71 per cent) of British men won’t take a risk at a supper party by presenting a wine that they aren’t already sure about and familiar with.
But it must be a personal discovery. More than three in five (62 per cent) men say that they won’t ever serve guests a wine that they had first enjoyed at another friend’s home.
British women are a little more relaxed about letting someone else’s taste buds take the credit for discovering a good bottle. But over half (54 per cent) are still reluctant to showcase another friend’s find.
It is men (52 per cent) who are most concerned with making sure that the wine choice complements the food being served (even if they didn’t actually cook it).
British women on the other hand are happier to serve an accessible wine that best suits the drinking preferences of their guests.
The study also found that drinkers now think little of spending more than £10 on a bottle of wine if it will create the right impression.
Almost three quarter of Brits (73 per cent) are willing to splash out a tenner and more, with 79 per cent of men happy to spend a tenner or more on a “bottle with impact” compared with 67 per cent of women.
A desire to impress means Britons spend almost 20 per cent more on wine when entertaining guests than for personal use. Men spend an average of £7.93 on a bottle (compared to £7.48 for women).
When enjoying a bottle without friends, the investment goes down to an average of £6.64 (£6.27 for women) a bottle.
Spending increases again when the wine being bought is to be given away as a gift. Brits spend an average of £9.43 on a “gift bottle”, with men spending an average of £9.57, compared with female spends of £9.28.
When British men leave the home for the pub, however, wine suddenly becomes less attractive. Although 91 per cent of men say they enjoy a glass of wine at home only 24 per cent choose wine in a pub.
At a party, the number increases to 42 per cent. In a restaurant, just over half (53 per cent) are comfortable to be seen perusing the wine list.
The survey also revealed that 25-34 year olds are more likely to drink wine in pubs and bars (37 per cent) than those who are 55+ (26 per cent) as a younger generation turns its back on overpriced lager.
Younger drinkers are the least likely to be bothered about the region the wine comes from (18 per cent) and also the most likely to be swayed by attractive packaging (32 per cent) as well as stylish advertising (21 per cent).
Although our wine connoisseurship is increasing, we often settle for a bottle found at the local newsagents. Olivier Legrand, Marketing Director at Côtes du Rhône Wines, said: “Our study shows that whilst 80 per cent of people buy their wines at supermarkets, just five per cent currently shop at a specialist store. Interestingly, the results showed that it is in fact the younger generation who is more likely to purchase wine at a local shop or newsagents (18 per cent).”
Best wines for £15 and under – Decanter magazine's 2013 International Trophy winners
Lawson’s Dry Hills, Mount Vernon Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2012, New Zealand (13 per cent)
Mineral and slate aromas with lime and tropical fruit leading to a concentration of ripe stone fruit, kiwi and vibrant citrus, held tight by racy acidity. Zesty and very juicy.
Bodegas Olarra, Erudito, Rioja Reserva, Spain 2008 (14 per cent)
Very Spanish, with a sweet, oaky nose of minty, lifted cherries. Medium-bodied, supple palate of coconut, cigar, tomato leaf and aged leather around a dense core of cherries and strawberries with superb freshness.
Concha y Toro, Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay, Limarí Valley, Chile 2011 (14 per cent)
Spicy, dried fruit aromas with apple and apricot over an oily palate. Peach, citrus and brioche with a long, nutty finish.
Aromo, Barrel Selection, Maule Valley, Chile 2010 (14 per cent)
Plummy and sweet: green herb, black cherry and blackcurrant aromas with mint and black pepper. Full-bodied yet elegant, with juicy herbal fruit, oak, and a savoury character.
Little Beauty, Dry Riesling, Marlborough, New Zealand 2010 (12.5 per cent)
Expressive, sherbet-bomb character showing Riesling typicity with vivid pear, lime and kerosene aromas. Pithy citrus fruit palate with lime blossom, freshness, yellow stone fruit and a steely, bone-dry finish. Plenty of ageability.