OPINION: It was an attention-grabbing headline in Yahoo News. "Three-fourths of people believe the rules of wine are intimidating".
I sorted every wine tasted over the past two years by wine style and noted the average price in NZD$ and the average score out of 100 points. Here is that list in ascending price. The figure in brackets shows the number of wines tasted in that group.
Riesling is the clear winner. It boasts the highest average score (with Syrah) and is only a few dollars more than the lowest average price. Before I crunched the numbers, I guessed that Riesling would be the hottest candidate. The variety is particularly well-suited to the climatic conditions in Wairarapa and the South Island, with a clearly demonstrated ability to make vibrant, long-lived wine that will put a smile on every Riesling lover's face.
Sadly, it is a tough sell in the marketplace. My guess is that many people are put off by the fact that New Zealand Riesling often needs a little residual sugar to balance knife-edged acidity. My wife, Marion, dislikes both the sweetness and the acidity it is supposed to ameliorate. She is not a Riesling lover. Riesling lovers should rejoice at the lack of interest in their favourite white wine. If everyone loved Riesling, we probably couldn't afford it. As a matter of interest, the price of Riesling ranged from a modest $15.95 to a reassuringly expensive $95.
New Zealand's poorest wine style might also be calculated from the chart below. Blended reds (these are, with few exceptions, blends of red Bordeaux grape varieties) has the highest average price of $65.01 and yet ranks fourth insofar as average score is concerned. Prices of the 147 blended reds ranged from a cheap and cheerful $15.99 to a rather serious $550.