Consumer Survey Points to Quality Image of Wines Closed with Cork

Consumer Survey Points to Quality Image of Wines Closed with Cork

Perceptions on wine bottle closures and specifically the image of cork came to the fore in an insightful study on South African wine consumer preferences, one of the most comprehensive to date, which was published last year. The results of the research by Carla Weightman, Florian F. Bauer, Nic S. Terblanche, Dominique Valentin & Hélène H. Nieuwoudt were published in the Journal of Wine Research (2019). The study sought to ascertain whether the active endeavours of the South African wine industry to portray wine as an acceptable and appropriate choice to consumers from all the country’s population groups had been successful.

Focus groups comprised various South African ethnic groups to make the study as extensive and as representative as possible. And as has so often been the case of studies of this nature all over the world, research showed that cork bears an image and perception of superior quality when compared to other wine closures.

With price being the major determinant, participants stated that they were generally willing to spend more money on red wine than white wine, “especially if the bottle had a cork”.

The research addressed the topic of bottle closures, and it was interesting to note that all participants in the study concurred – there were no differences in opinion, among the cultural groups or gender. The consensus among participants unanimously attached value to the cork, and the male participants agreed that they particularly enjoyed the ritual of “popping the cork” from a bottle compared to breaking a seal on a twist cap, which was deemed “not as satisfying”.

Participants also believed a cork to be an integral part of wine quality, and as a result were willing to pay more for a bottle with a cork. The members of the research focus groups furthermore believed that wine with a cork “tasted differently from wine with a twist cap”, but could not say how exactly the taste differed.

Some of the respondents were more direct and forthcoming than others, with one female participant simply stating: “If it does not have a cork, it is not proper wine”. Females mentioned that wine with a screw cap, especially red, is only good for cooking! Furthermore, participants also perceived a link between twist caps and a high sulphur content, which they, in turn, related to headaches.

Independent studies like these are of vital importance as they involve the most vital cog in the wheel of any business: the end-customer. The fact that cork has complemented the expectations of the consumer with its reputation as the most suitable closure for wine, makes it a win-win for all.