Overall wine consumption in the U.S. rose 0.9 percent in 2008 to 294.7 million 9-liter cases, according to the Beverage Information Group’s recently released 2009 Wine Handbook.
Although the growth rate has slowed slightly, this marks the 15th consecutive year of case gains.
Changing demographic trends cited in the Handbook are favorable for the wine industry. The 70 million people that make up the “Millennial” generation (ages 21-30) are changing perceptions of wine.
This generation is not as sophisticated about wine as preceding generations, and is willing to experiment with a wider array of varieties. In other words, they do not possess certain built-in prejudices toward varieties that some may perceive as “lesser” than others.
Another factor accounting for the rise in U.S. wine consumption is the weakened dollar, which has driven up prices of imported wine selections. This has triggered an increase in sales among domestic vintages that are priced more competitively.
“Imported wines dropped 1.8%, while domestics rose 1.9% — a stark contrast to the recent trend when imported table wines fueled not only the growth of that sector, but of the entire industry,” says Eric Schmidt, manager of information services for the Beverage Information Group, based in Norwalk, Conn.
In addition, continued association between moderate wine consumption and decreased risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke remains a key driver of wine’s popularity among an increasingly health-conscious society.