Has wine become a natural beverage of choice for American consumers? Let’s take a look at what’s on the pulse and the likely future trends for wine.
Who is drinking wine in the U.S.?
Boomers remain the solid base for wine consumption, but it is the Millennials who are driving the growth. Broken down, the Wine Market Council says 28 percent of younger Millennials (ages 21 to 26) reported drinking wine daily, while 19 percent of those ages 27 to 36 say they consume wine every day. Also driving growth is that both Millennials and Generation-X-ers are drinking wine as a beverage of choice more often. But it’s not just generational: Wine-drinkers also are increasing among African-Americans, Latino-Americans and Asian-Americans.
It seems like wine is everywhere and everyone is trying to get in on the game: We have seen celebrities with their own labels; and even retailers such as Starbucks and Frontgate are dabbling in wine sales and testing markets. Wine also is showing up in less-traditional venues, like sporting events, concerts and at big-box stores.
Adventures in Wine
Eclectic whites like Vinho Verde from Portugal and albarino from Spain are on the rise as younger wine-drinkers are becoming more adventurous. Rosé in every style continues to grow in both popularity and quality. (And yes, real men do drink white and pink.)
The frost, snow and hail of 2013 were rough on vineyards, which reduced yields and production in most parts of the world. Headlines declaring, Wine is running out!, flooded both the industry and mainstream media.
Word of Mouth
Social media has made its way to every major wine producer, and even importers and merchants. Have you seen all the wine humor on Facebook and Twitter? Wine has certainly made its presence in the digital world.
We’re becoming more worldly
The global wine market continues to further its reach as we increasingly get imports from almost all wine appellations. We continue to be more accepting of other varietals and regions. It’s not just Napa and Sonoma, we are discovering all wine regions in America, and embracing quality (instead of well-known assumed regions as a sign of quality).
Italian wines continue to be the most imported wine into the U.S. Wine-drinkers are exploring both the value-end wines such as soave and Montelpulciano D’Abruzzo, as well as more expensive wines like Brunello or amarone.
Bordeaux Stays in the Game
Bordeaux has experienced increased prices due to demand around the world (from countries like China) for its well-known chateaux (wine producers). Bordeaux has responded with more value-driven, affordable wines in the U.S. to try and connect with the younger drinkers.
So where is all this going? There are wines for all palates, budgets and occasions. We know we all like good, expensive wine from our favorite regions. However, as frequency of wine-drinking has increased, we are looking for more value wines we can drink on any given day of the week. The good news is, with the influx of global wines in the last 10 years, these value wines are readily available. This is where your local wine retailer can help. Be open to trying many new wines. The goal is to find delicious everyday wines that won’t break the wallet.
Tasting Tip: Progression of flavors: When entertaining, it usually is a good idea to start with lighter, cleaner wine such as a sauvignon blanc and progress to fuller-bodied ones like cabernet sauvignon. The same works for beers and other beverages.
Wine Recommendation: This coming year, try 10 new wine varietals or wine regions. Consider varietals such as carmenere from Chile, chenin blanc (steen) from South Africa, bonarda from Argentina, garganega (Soave) from Italy, godello blanco from Spain. A new one for me this year was orange wine from Slovenia. The list goes on…get out there and try new ones!
Certified Sommelier Stanley Browne is the owner of Robust Wine Bar in Webster Groves, Downtown at the MX and in Edwardsville.