Tag Archives: Wine Market Council

What drives wine drinkers? Price, of course


wine drinkers priceNot that the Wine Curmudgeon had any doubt. But listen to enough people in the business, and especially to the Winestream Media, and it’s scores and romance and tasting notes and about as much foolishness as you can imagine. But we have better evidence than ever that wine drinkers buy wine based on price, in the form of the 2013 Wine Market Council Study.

And what kind of wine do most of us buy, even those of us with deep pockets and subscriptions to the wine magazines? Cheap wine, of course.

More, after the jump:

Millennials and the confidence of the palate

Wine Market Council 2012 report

Confidence is one thing, but that 71 percent number is something else entirely.

Dear Millennials:

Almost no one who writes about wine respects you as much as I do – in fact, I’m in the middle of a trade magazine story detailing the massive changes you’ll bring to the wine business.

But even I had to giggle when the new Wine Market Council study reported that 7 out of 10 of you who drink wine at least once a week said you could “correctly differentiate a glass of merlot from a glass of cabernet sauvignon.”

That’s saying a lot. For one thing, the two wines can taste quite similar, especially given that one goal of post-modern winemaking is to eliminate the qualities that make them different. For another, I often have trouble telling the difference between cabernet and merlot — and I’ve been drinking wine for a long time.

In this, I’d love to do a blind tasting – for money, of course, because I have all these expenses – to see if you can really do it. I’d enjoy being proved wrong, though I doubt that would happen. It’s one thing to wax poetic about wine at the dinner table with your friends, and something altogether different when a bunch of people are waiting for you to demonstrate the acuity of your palate.

Yet, having said all this, I’m quite impressed that so many of you are so confident about wine. It’s not something that we’ve always seen in the past from younger wine drinkers, who are usually more worried about using a corkscrew than about what the wine tastes like. No doubt this is yet another way in which you’ll change the wine business. I guess I need to figure out to work that into my story.

The 2012 Wine Market Council report: More of us are drinking cheap wine more often

Are more of us drinking wine more often? That’s one of the conclusions from the Wine Market Council’s annual report, which tracks U.S. wine consumption habits and trends.

The report, which has been published since 1994, says that core wine drinkers – those of us who drink wine at least once a week – make up 25 percent of the U.S. adult population and drink 93 percent of the wine. The good news? That the number of core wine drinkers has increased by two-thirds since the first study.

“Wine drinkers are gravitating towards higher consumption,” says John Gillespie, the president of the market council. “And the driver seems to be they see more occasions as wine drinking occasions.”

But, even then, we’re watching prices. More than 9 of 10 core wine drinkers said it’s possible to buy wine without spending a lot of money. (Insert plug for The Cheap Wine Book here). Says the report: “The most desirable characteristics in a wine bought at retail are value, high quality, previous trial, and a high level of comfort when serving it to friends.” Note that this does not say anything about scores, reviews, or any of the things that drive the traditional wine business.

This fact, tempered with the demographic information that showed that Millennials (consumers ages 21-36) drink more wine than the Baby Boomers, should make everyone in the wine business break out in a cold sweat. Because, though Boomers make up 38 percent of wine drinkers, they consume only 32 percent of the wine. The numbers for Millennials are 29 and 38 — and that doesn’t include the 8 million of them who aren’t old enough to drink yet.

There are still some numbers in the report that bother me, not the least of which is that per capita wine consumption in the U.S. has remained more or less the same for 40 years. But, says Gillespie, that’s probably not as big a problem as I think it is. His focus is on the core numbers, which shows that Americans are taking wine more seriously than ever before. I’ll settle for that.

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