Millennials are known for a lot of things: their love of selfies, pioneering social media, and a knack for fast casual food. Soon, they will also become known for their affinity for wine. That’s not a typo. Millennials are wine lovers, and they drink more of it than the rest of us.
According to a recent survey by the Wine Market Council, 42 percent of all the wine drunk in the United States was consumed by millennials in 2015. That’s an increase of 13 percent compared to the year prior, demonstrating the extreme surge in popularity of wine among this age group.
The Wine Market Council also takes annual surveys of what they call “high frequency” drinkers, or people who consume wine several times per week. It’s important to note that 90 percent of wine consumed in the U.S. is consumed by high frequency drinkers. In the aforementioned survey, 30 percent of high frequency drinkers were millennials and 38 percent were baby boomers. While baby boomers are likely to drink a little more, Wine Inspector stated that millennials are willing to spend more on wine than older generations. More specifically, 17 percent of all millennial wine drinkers had purchased a bottle of wine costing more than $20 in the past month, while only 5 percent of Baby Boomers did this and only 10 percent of drinkers overall did this. These stats are great news for marketing and PR firms targeting this demographic.
So why, exactly, is it that millennials are so passionate about wine? Some would argue that there is more variety to wine now. That would make sense, considering that millennials have the most varied taste in wine preferences. Rob Shouse, wine specialist for Chicago store wineHouse stated that older generations didn’t originally have access to nice wine in America, but now every store that sells alcohol sells wine. There is a wider variety, and thus greater consumption.
Millennials are also more involved in the process of choosing wine. They often go for Malbec, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Moscato. Shouse states that members of Generation X will typically take whatever wine he recommends while younger people tend to ask more questions. Nowadays, wine shops often offer tastings to allow people to try wines ahead to time, so it is natural that customers will be likely to buy that wine in the future. Years ago, this was not an option. This is yet another change that has allowed millennials to get more involved with wine.
Not only do millennials enjoy different types of wine, they also enjoy wine from different sources. Millennials, known also for frequent travel, are more willing to try new wine options from areas such as Argentina, South Africa and Chile, and are not beholden to the domestic (but nonetheless world class) wines of California. In fact, the only place the baby boomers topped millennials in their wine region of choice was California.
One 26-year-old law student at Northwestern said that millennials do not attach stigma to any types of wine or regions that they come from. They are unlikely to turn down wines just because they are different. While members of the older generations stick to what they are used to, millennials enjoy trying out different types of wine and finding out what they like.
To be clear, wine hasn’t surpassed beer in popularity among millennials, but it isn’t far from passing cocktails. It will be interesting to see how and if things change in the next few years, but for now, it doesn’t look like wine will lose its popularity among millennials anytime soon.