Buy now, drink now

Of course most wine is drunk pretty soon after it’s bought. Unsplash

It’s often said that 90% of all wine is consumed within 48 hours of being purchased. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this stated as fact, with minor variations in percentage or time-frame. But tracing this statistic to its source has proven elusive.

I’ve always assumed someone just made it up. And, as you know, 73.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

Statistics are fascinating things. They’re great for bolstering a weak argument.

Of course most wine is drunk pretty soon after it’s bought, as you can see from just observing your fellow humans. The most fashionable wines of the moment are sauvignon blanc, rosé, pinot grigio, prosecco and other cheap bubblies, none of which are intended for keeping. Sales of cask—or bag-in-box—wine have plummeted in recent years, but they’re still significant, and nobody’s stashing them in a cellar.

Statistics are fascinating things. They’re great for bolstering a weak argument. British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli is supposed to have said “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics”.

No offence to professional statisticians, but I think he meant to highlight the fact that numbers may be persuasive, but they can also be deceiving.

Professor of wine marketing at the University of South Australia, Larry Lockshin, says he recalls there was some research done a few years ago at a university in Adelaide that was “a bit rubbery”, which suggested about 90% of wine is consumed within one week. Perhaps that’s the source of the popular quote.

Most wine is made to be enjoyed immediately, because that is what people want.

The truth is that very few people have ever cellared wine. It’s mainly the nerds like you (possibly) and me (definitely).

Statistics are fraught, but there is one that I trust:

“The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who believe the world can be divided into two kinds of people, and those who don’t.”


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