Consumers’ knowledge of and attitudes toward the role of oak in winemaking
Anna M Crump,1 Trent E Johnson,1 Susan EP Bastian,1 Johan Bruwer,1,2 Kerry L Wilkinson1
1School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, The University of Adelaide, Glen Osmond, SA, Australia; 2Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, The University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Abstract: Oak plays an important role in the production of some white wines and most red wines. Yet, consumers’ knowledge of the use of oak in winemaking and their preference for oak-related sensory attributes remains unclear. This study examined the knowledge and attitudes of 1,015 Australian wine consumers toward the use of oak in winemaking. Consumers who indicated a liking of oak-aged wines (n=847) were segmented according to their knowledge of the role of oak in wine production. Four distinct consumer clusters were identified, with significantly different preferences for wine sensory attributes and opinions regarding the use of oak alternatives for wine maturation. One segment comprised more knowledgeable consumers, who appreciate and value traditional oak maturation regimes, for which they are willing to pay a premium price. However, a segment comprising less knowledgeable wine consumers was accepting of the use of oak chips, provided wine quality was not compromised. Winemakers can therefore justify the use of oak alternatives to achieve oak-aged wines at lower price points. The outcomes of this study can be used by winemakers to better tailor their wines to the specific needs and expectations of consumers within different segments of the market.
Keywords: maturation, segmentation, wine, wine consumers
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