I have just come across US research done earlier this year by The Nielsen Company into Merlot, a wine both loved and maligned in the United States, which found that “Merlot has the single largest consumer base of any varietal wine in the U.S. and, of the major wine varietals, is the one most closely associated with high quality at an affordable price.”
The research, which was commissioned by the Blackstone Winery, found that “Merlot remains the second best-selling red wine variety in the U.S. behind Cabernet Sauvignon, and the third most popular varietal overall.”
“However, Nielsen’s analysis reveals that Merlot enjoys higher household penetration than any other wine variety, with 9.5 percent of U.S. households purchasing at least one bottle of Merlot in 2008 compared to 9.3 percent for Chardonnay and 8.8 percent for Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot also boasts the highest repeat purchase rate of any variety, with 49 percent of Merlot consumers making multiple purchases year over year.”
Key findings of the research were:
— More American households purchase Merlot than any other wine variety, red or white.
— Consumer affinity for Merlot is based on the key factors of taste and value.
— Merlot has the highest repeat purchase rate of any wine variety in the U.S.
— Merlot drinkers strongly agree that Merlot is a good, versatile and food-friendly everyday wine.
— Merlot sales, measured in both dollars and volume, have grown steadily since “Sideways” was released in 2004 and slated Merlot as an “uncool” varietal.
— Despite rumors of a “Sideways effect,” 45 percent of participants in Nielsen’s custom survey of Merlot drinkers never saw the movie, and 93 percent of those that saw the movie say it had no effect on their opinion of Merlot.
— The number of U.S. households purchasing Merlot is more than double those purchasing Pinot Noir.
— Over 50 percent of current U.S. Merlot drinkers are consuming more Merlot than they did five years ago.