Millennials Now Calling The Shots

Millennials Now Calling The Shots When it Comes to Wine

“The wine trend is dead,” a young mixologist told me not long ago as he poured me something that looked like a car crash in a cup. “It’s all about craft beer and artisanal cocktails now.”

I resisted the urge to hammer him senseless for using the words “trend” and “artisanal.” Then I schooled him with a few recent facts.

At its conference in January, the Wine Market Council found that wine seems to be ignoring the predictions of its sad demise. The proportion of Americans who drink wine several times a week has doubled in the last 15 years — from 7.6 percent of the population in 2000 to 13 percent in 2015.

Who’s behind the rise? Millennials.

Wine consumers between the ages of 21 and 38 are now the biggest wine-drinking segment in the country – they represent about 36 percent of all American wine drinkers. They pushed the Boomers aside in 2015; those older wine fans are now consuming 34percent of all wine sold domestically. Gen Xers come in a distant third at 18 percent.

Millennials Now Calling The Shots

Millennials also enjoy drinking more wine in a single sitting. They consume about 3.1 glasses per session; Gen Xers are second at 2.4 and those fading Boomers come in third at 1.9 glasses. That means the Millennials drank about 42 percent of all wine sold in this country in 2015. Wine Spectator estimates that at almost 160 million cases, or two per person.

What are younger wine drinkers attracted to? They’re adventurers, and they’re a bit fickle. Last year it was Malbec and Moscato; now it’s Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and dry French rose.

Yes, but they’re all poor, right? That’s been the dig about younger wine drinkers – that they won’t spend more than a Hamilton on a bottle.

Wrong again, haters. The WMC survey revealed that 17 percent of millennials spent more than $20 on a bottle of wine in a given month. That’s almost double the national average of 10 percent and way more than those cheap-thrills Boomers – only five percent of them shelled out that much for wine.

It’s the women who are leading the charge. According to the WMC survey, two-thirds of high-frequency wine drinkers under 30 years old in 2015 were women.

It’s no coincidence that Wine Spectator, the bible of old guard wine consumers, came out with a new app last month that’s aimed squarely at millennials. Called Xvalues, it’s designed to introduce newcomers into the world of wine. (The name comes from its curated selection of “extreme values.”) Xvalues is available as a free download for iPhone and iPad.