Feel like a fraud when you hit the wine store? Does the prospect of trying to pick between a $12 sauvignon blanc, a $14 Chablis, and a $17 Vouvray make you panic and perspire? Are you ashamed that you remedy this anxiety by going for the one with the more refined-looking label, even if you have no fucking clue what it's going to taste like?
You may feel alone. Despondent. Like a failure. But don't worry—we're all doing it.
Since you're reading a food website right now, you'd probably like to think of yourself as a little more wine-educated than the average Yellow Tail drinker. Maybe you are, and maybe you aren't. But a new report from Wine.net shows that most of us are relying on aesthetic cues to make our wine selections, anyway.
Wine.net surveyed 2,000 wine drinkers about their buying and consumption habits, asking them to choose between three bottles of red wine and three bottles of white wine without providing any information besides images of each bottle.
Here are the red wines:
And these are the whites:
In addition to asking which wine they'd choose, the surveyors asked the subject to clarify which factors were most important to them while making their pick: the way the label looked? The shape of the bottle, or how expensive it looked? A familiarity with the wine itself, in variety or vineyard?
In a whopping 82 percent of instances, the survey respondents admitted that they made their selections based on the appearance of the labels. (They picked both the second red and the second white above.) Looks like people really do just gravitate toward the shiniest objects—or the ones emblazoned with bright colors and butterflies.
Sixty-five percent of wine-drinkers made their decision based on "perceived price"—in other words, the ones that looked the most expensive. The wines ranged in price from $10 to $150, but most wine-buyers rely on certain visual cues in indicate a bling-bling factor.
"Regardless of a wine's actual price, bottles with certain features—for instance, embossed labels, gold foil, high-end graphics, or fancy font—may tend to look more expensive," the report says. "And for someone who needs to quickly choose a bottle of wine to pour at a last-minute dinner party or give as a gift, choosing a bottle that appears elegant and pricey is appealing."
Trailing behind both label and perceived priciness were the wine's actual region of origin (considered in a mere 58 percent of cases) and the shape and color of the bottle (which 53 percent of people took into consideration).
But when it really comes down to a trip to the wine store, another huge predictor is your gender. While women are split right down the middle on whether they prefer red or white wine, 67 percent of men prefer red. Red wine drinkers also tend to consider themselves more knowledgeable on wine in general, and are willing to throw down more dough for a bottle.
Is all of this making you feel like a bit of a dolt, albeit one that is common in our nation's idiocracy? Fear not: Wine Business's 2015 Survey of American Wine Consumer Preferences found that most Americans like their wine fruity and relatively sweet, so no need to have your tail between your legs if you love curling up with a bottle of moscato. Just accept that you're a trashy, hedonistic, depressed-housewife type who is personally advancing the degradation of wine culture. JUST KIDDING, GUYS!
And don't feel bad that you chose the bottle with the cool label. Your date probably would have picked that one, too. But good luck when it comes to ordering a wine off a menu.