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The gap between wine expert ratings and consumer preferences: Measures, determinants and marketing implications

Jan Schiefer (Institute for Food and Resource Economics (ILR), University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany)
Christian Fischer (Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Agribusiness, Supply‐Chain Management and Logistics, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)

International Journal of Wine Business Research

ISSN: 1751-1062

Article publication date: 7 November 2008




Expert wine awards are commonly used by consumers to reduce complexity in wine choice but little is known about expert vs non‐expert perceptions of sensory wine quality. This paper aims to examine if expert ratings are suitable quality indicators for consumers and whether there are certain groups of consumers that find expert awards more useful than others.


The paper compares German consumer ratings obtained in a sensory laboratory with German Agricultural Society's quality competition awards. it tests for the correspondence between expert and non‐expert ratings and for the concordance within the non‐expert group. Estimation of a linear mixed model serves to identify consumer‐side variables with an influence on individual rating distance.


Correspondence between expert and non‐experts and concordance within the non‐expert group were found to be insignificant. Experienced wine consumers with sufficient specific knowledge and superior self‐reported sensory skills better replicated expert ratings.

Research limitations/implications

With 216 wine ratings obtained from 36 German consumers, the number of observations is small. Future research should verify above findings by considering more consumers and the stability of ratings across time.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that although some consumer segments may find expert awards to be useful decision cues, for a large portion of the market, there is demand for a more consumer‐orientated system of sensory quality evaluation and labelling.


This paper is the first to address the usefulness of expert ratings to novice and experienced wine consumer populations. The statistical procedures employed (including linear mixed modelling) are shown to be useful techniques to handle the repeated measurement nature of the data.



Schiefer, J. and Fischer, C. (2008), "The gap between wine expert ratings and consumer preferences: Measures, determinants and marketing implications", International Journal of Wine Business Research, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 335-351.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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