Do You Prefer Riesling? Some Notes on the Canadian Wine Palate Survey 2013

As you may recall, earlier this year I set up a poll for Canadians asking some questions about the types of wines they like, how much they pay for wine, etc. Although I did not get as large a sample as I hoped from across Canada (85 responses), I feel that I do have enough where I can make some general comments.  I would have loved to have had 850 responses so I could give you more detailed information with more certainty.  Possibly the next time I run the survey, we can get more Canadians to participate.

Hopefully what I tell you below about the Canadian wine palate will ring true for you. And as always I love to get feedback.  I must say thank you as well to Mr. Paul Rickett who massaged the data that I collected from this survey to help me come up with these high-level comments.

Some General Demographics Information

Most respondents were from BC (59), followed by Alberta (11) and Ontario (10), followed by other provinces.  From all respondents 44 were male and 41 were female, so almost an even split by gender.  On the age distribution, the largest group of respondents were from 31-39 years, and the second largest group was 40-49 years.  The median age of all respondents was 44 years.

Favourite Varietal White Wine

For this part of my survey, I listed the most popular grape varieties in my opinion.  I did not list all white grape varieties, so the results could be biased toward these more popular grapes (similar for the section on red wines).  If you look at the male/female preferences we see that Chardonnay is the preference of males and Pinot Gris/Grigio for females.  Out of the top 3 varietals, Canadian men and women appear to agree on Riesling.I am a bit surprised that Riesling is the liked the most as Chardonnay is probably the most widely grown grape.  This result may be due to the people that responded to my survey, which were I think people that follow wine topics via Twitter, so may have slightly different palates from the general population.  

 Varietal Preference
Female Percent Male Percent
Riesling 18.69 27.31
Chardonnay 10.10 29.17
Pinot Gris/Grigio 24.24 10.65
Sauvignon Blanc 22.73 9.72
Viognier 4.04 11.11
Pinot Blanc 12.63 1.85
Gewurtztraminer 6.06 6.48
Chenin Blanc 1.52 3.70

As tables of numbers can glaze my eyes over, here is a graphic to show the same information.

White wine preferences male vs female
White wine preferences male vs female


Favourite Varietal Red Wine

What were the overall preferences for red grape varietal wines?

Varietal Male
Pinot Noir 23.15 21.89
Cabernet Sauvignon 22.22 18.91
Syrah 19.91 10.45
Cabernet Franc 6.02 16.92
Malbec 3.70 12.94
Merlot 6.02 9.45
Sangiovese 7.41 2.99
Tempranillo 5.56 1.99
Grenache 3.70 1.99
Gamay 2.31 2.49

For this chart we have Pinot Noir as the overall favourite for both men and women followed by Cabernet Sauvignon.  It appears that our preferences for red wine are a bit more similar than they are for white wine.  A graphic of this chart for the right brain people:

Red varietals men vs women
Red wine preferences men vs women

 Do Wine Preferences Change According to Age Group?

Paul aggregated our data into people below 40 years of age and people above 40 years of age, and did see some differences in our choices of grape variety.  If we look at our white wine preferences, women above and below 40 in my opinion are pretty well in sync as their top 4 grape varieties are basically the same: Pinot Gris/Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Blanc.  For men, there are two white grape varietals that a preferred: Chardonnay and Riesling, while the other varietals are at least 50% less preferred.  I find that very interesting personally as I do like most of the other white varietals shown in the chart almost to the same degree as Chardonnay and Riesling.

Male and females above and below 40 white wine preferences
Male and females above and below 40 white wine preferences

Do these preferences mean anything to wine makers here in Canada?  Maybe produce a bit more Riesling as both men and women appear to prefer it.  Other considerations could be how wine is marketed.  Maybe Chardonnay should have a label that draws men’s attention (I don’t know what style of label that would be), and similarly labels for women to purchase their Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.

Male and females above and below 40 red wine preferences
Male and females above and below 40 red wine preferences

Differences with the US Market

Do we have a Canadian wine palate that is different from other countries?  I thought I’d investigate this a bit by checking some trends in the USA.  From the Feb 2013 issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine online.  According to WEM, “Merlot topped the list of red varietals respondents currently drink (61%), the WMC reported, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon (52%). Forming a second tier of red wines were Pinot Noir (42%) and red Zinfandel (34%)...” (  Checking my graph for red wine preferences, I see that Merlot is the 6th favourite among men and women in Canadian respondents to my survey.  Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir appear to be similar between both our countries.

More notes to come in future posts.


Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.

5 thoughts on “Do You Prefer Riesling? Some Notes on the Canadian Wine Palate Survey 2013

  1. Very interesting! It would be a disadvantage, in my opinion, to market a wine to one gender as many times, a bottle is enjoyed by both genders (e.g. date situation, at home). You’d alienate half the population. Maybe a more widely appealing approach would be to touch the emotional aspect (e.g making that romantic connection over a bottle of Merlot) as it relates to everyone regardless of whether they are male, female, gay or straight. This study may not be big enough to correctly generalize this, but it would be interesting to see the differences in palates across the country and if or how much it varies by province and metropolitan areas. This would be great info for wine makers, distributors, restaurants and retailers.

    1. Yes it would have been good if I was able to get more people across Canada to participate. I’d love to try the survey again, with revised questions, based on the last survey. I do have more info coming up on the rest of the survey. It’s on my Christmas to-do list.

  2. i find it odd that pinot noir is canada´s favorite red. from my experience in the retail sector I would say that probably you have a biased poll base. people who read wine blogs are usually people who know about wine. i would bet that if you run a poll in ldb stores for instance, randomly selecting customers you would get merlot cab sauv and malbec way ahead from pinot noir for both men and women. great blog by the way. salud!

    1. Yes I agree. I did note at the start of the post the same issue. But still it is interesting to see what people that have a bit more wine knowledge are interested in drinking.

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