It would be much more convincing if folks like Randy Dunn and Darrell Corti et al could provide firm evidence that high alcohol wines are not what the consumer wants. I’ve tried to find evidence that consumers do purchase based on alcohol content. There does not seem to be much data out there, although I did find the following from the WSTA.
Over 1 in 3 women (35%) and 1 in 4 men (27%) believe that lower alcohol wines are becoming more fashionable according to the May Consumer Intelligence report issued today by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) and Wine Intelligence. (Comment: Which implies that 65% of women and 73% of men believe that lower alcohol wines are not fashionable.)
WSTA also noted that:-
59% of all UK regular wine drinkers claim to read the alcohol content of a bottle of wine before purchasing, but only half of those say it is important when deciding what wine to buy. (Comment: If that means half of 59% then less than 30% of these consumers consider alcohol important in their buying decision.) They consider seven other factors more important when choosing a wine including grape variety, promotional offer, brand, country of origin, recommendation by friend or family and region of origin. (Comment: I don’t see the wine press listed there. And that’s strange because Randy Dunn points the finger directly at the wine press: “Influential members of the wine press have led the score chasing winemakers/owners up the alcohol curve……”)
Consumers also link higher alcohol levels with better quality and better value for money.
I don’t see any of the information from the WSTA as evidence that that lower alcohol wines are preferred - and let's face it in the UK they have access to a LOT of cheap (supposedly lower alcohol) European wines.
Does anyone know of similar surveys of US wine consumers?