High-end wine drinkers like Napa cabernet

Red wines over $30 preference This is not really surprising news, but the extent of how much they like it is.

That’s one of the results of a 2007 study of wine drinkers who are representative of consumers who buy expensive wine. The survey, conducted by California’s WineOpinions, found that almost one-half of respondents are “very likely” to buy a $30-plus Napa cab, but only one-quarter are very likely to buy similarly-priced Bordeaux red wine.

Meanwhile, more than a third are “not very likely” to buy a Washington state cabernet or a Spanish red from Rioja, even though the quality is comparable and the price is often one-third less (or more).

John Gillespie, whose company conducted the survey, says that Wine Magazine influence — which holds Napa cabernet in almost ridiculously high esteem — accounts for some of those numbers. But he notes that that isn’t the only reason.

? Napa wines, though overpriced, aren’t as overpriced as similar Bordeaux wines. So, in that respect, Napa still offers value.

? It’s easier to buy Napa wines in the U.S. than it is Bordeaux wines. All things being equal, consumers will buy what’s on the shelf.

? These consumers are more likely to have visited a Napa winery, and that’s a powerful inducement to keep buying the winery’s product. Why take a chance on a $30 Rioja when you’ve been to the place where the $40 Napa cab is made?