Geographical origin, use of traditional varieties and ancestral viticulture/oenology practices characterize wines classified as Historical Wines of Portugal (HWP). This study identifies the authenticity attributes consumers associate with this classification and assesses the relative strength of associations. A review of brand authenticity research and interviews with Portuguese wine producers (n = 3) and consumers (n = 12) were conducted to identify HWP classification attributes. Strength of attribute association was subsequently evaluated in an online questionnaire with a convenience sample of Portuguese wine consumers (n = 641), which included a measure of general wine knowledge and questions about the adequacy of different contexts for HWP purchase and consumption. Wine knowledge markedly affected the nature and strength of consumer associations. Compared to Aspirational Explorers, wine connoisseurs emerged as Heritage Gatekeepers, associating origin, cultural heritage, quality, production and at-home consumption more strongly with HWP, and tradition, wine age and out-of-home consumption less strongly. Market recognition of HWP as a novel and distinctive table wine classification, with well-defined and unique attributes, is thus likely to depend on consumers' general wine knowledge. Related promotional activities targeting wine novices should first focus on educating them on HWP classification, whereas those directed at savvier consumers should emphasize wine authenticity cues instead.
Keywords: brand authenticity; consumer behavior; historical wines; marketing strategy; wine knowledge.