Study: Israelis like wine but may not know much about it

Haifa U. study shows that Israelis like to drink but may not really understand wine.

illustrative galil wine (photo credit: Ofer Zemach)
illustrative galil wine
(photo credit: Ofer Zemach)
Young, educated and well-off describes the average Israeli wine tourist, according to a study released by the University of Haifa's Center for Tourism, Pilgrimage and Recreation Research on Tuesday. Supervised by Prof. Yoel Mansfeld, Noa Hanun surveyed 254 visitors to wineries across the North for her master's thesis. "It was fascinating work," Hanun told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, "because no one's ever done research on wine tourism in Israel before. We were in completely new territory." About 70 percent of the visitors were aged between 24 and 44. Seventy-five percent of those willing to partake in the survey had college degrees and 54% had earnings higher or much higher than average. Analysis showed that the strongest predictor of wine tourism was income: the higher the income, the more frequently the tourist visited wineries. Sixty percent of respondents regularly or frequently drink wine, and 31.5% drink beer at a similar rate, leaving only 16% who prefer other alcoholic beverages. Interestingly though, the same wine tourists preferred a meal in a restaurant to hanging out in a bar or club. Mansfeld, who established Haifa's Center for Tourism Research 10 years ago, said the growth in Israelis' interest in wine was directly related to the drink's rising popularity everywhere. "There's been a rise in both supply and demand ever since analysts proved that a glass of wine per day is good for your health," he said. Perhaps the most intriguing find in the research was related to the knowledge of wine. Fifty-two percent of respondents expressed a strong interest in the topic, while only 22% showed a very high level of knowledge of wines and wine production. Most of the visitors came to taste the wine (81%), to expand their knowledge of the field (62%), or to learn about the process of wine production (55%). The researchers concluded that wine tourism ought to be combined with the country's general tourism efforts and that the "northern region's image should be reinforced as a rustic area with innate characteristics of wine, vineyards and wineries." This could make wine an attractive force for the region."