66% of wine drinkers find wine descriptions unhelpful in choosing wine. Only 9% rely on critics

Data from the 2013 Laithwaites Wines Survey, of 1,000 wine drinkers by polling firm, One Poll. (Laithwaites customers were excluded from the survey.)

Those taking part said they were relatively well-informed on wine terminology.

All the terms used in the survey were taken from the bottles or websites of leading wine brands, or recent reviews by leading wine critics.

Nearly two thirds of respondents also said they never get the same smells from wine as those which are suggested from the wine label.

Asked why the descriptions were not helpful, responses included finding them meaningless, bearing no relationship to a wine’s taste, pretentious and “a load of poppycock.”


Six out of ten people said picking out a clear fruit taste in the wine was the best way to help understand a wine’s taste and also found it helpful when food pairings were suggested.

MW and Laithwaites consultant comments

Justin Howard-Sneyd, consultant for the firm and a master of wine, said: “Describing wine is not an exact science; wine and taste are very personal, very subjective things. A wine that I think tastes of cherry, could taste totally different to someone else, so it’s no wonder that there is such a vast variety of language when it comes to wine descriptions.

“We have probably been guilty ourselves of using overblown language in the past but this is a wake-up call to the whole wine industry to make a change.”

Data sources & amalgamated text

Wine Industry Insight requested original source information on the poll directly from Laithwaites Wine and One Poll. Neither organization bothered to respond.

Therefore, the data above was obtained from the following sources:

All source data agreed on the percentages used in our article.

The text of this article is an amalgamation of our original text as well as edited snippets from the sources linked above.