With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, if you’re a Millennial, you just may be a…wine drinker.
Millennials range in age roughly from 21 to 35, and they represent the youngest generation ever to embrace wine in such large numbers.
The United States last year surpassed France in total wine consumption for the first time since such records have been kept, and a good deal of the credit goes to the Millennial Generation.
Wineries, especially larger ones with marketing departments and in-house “think tanks”—are drooling over the potential that this generation represents. Everyone from BusinessWeek to the New York Times has run articles on the wine-loving Millennials and on how wines are being created specifically for them.
Why are younger adults finding themselves just as comfortable with a glass of Pinot Gris as they are with a can of PBR?
There are at least three factors in play, as I see it:
- As the children of Generation X, they grew up with wine on the dinner table&mdash:at least, that is, in households where there was a dinner table used for something other than homework on a regular basis.
- Because wine was omnipresent at home, it was never perceived as a special-occasion beverage to be consumed exclusively at frou-frou French restaurants. It was “just another drink,” like Coca-Cola or Mountain Dew…except that it was off-limits to the kids.
- The emergence of good-quality wines at reasonable prices from such countries as Australia, Argentina and Chile made embracing wine an affordable pastime for those young adults with an interest in it.
Add it all up, and it’s no longer unusual to see groups of young twenty-somethings inhabiting wine bars or scouring the wine aisle at supermarkets. This inquisitive generation—which never knew a time without cell phones or email—has learned about wine on its own, after being exposed to it by their parents or peers.
Wine industry observers believe accessibility to the beverage has played a key role in transforming Millennials into Merlot and Mourvedre drinkers. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 6,200 wineries.1 The influx of wines from various New World countries has been unprecedented.
Most big cities are home to at least a handful of wine bars, and many restaurants have enhanced their wine lists with more affordable bottlings that are not plonk.
Accessibility helps eliminate intimidation, the final barrier for young adults to overcome in becoming regular, enthusiastic wine drinkers.
So, on behalf of the generations that came before them, may we say to the Millennials: Welcome to the party!