In recent years, the popularity of wine drinking in the United States has flourished in ways that surprised and excited those in the industry. Of course, wine has always been a commonly consumed beverage around the world, and here at home, however, there is a new obsession with it that has sparked interest within one specific demographic.
We are talking about millennials. Defined as a person born between 1981 and 1996, millennials have taken the world by storm, creating new trends and changing patterns within many cultural industries in ways that no one predicted, particularly in regards to wine.
It’s not that millennials are drinking more wine overall than other generations, it comes down to the way that they drink it. For instance, a millennial is more likely to seek out rare wine than a Gen Xer (baby boomer), and they are more inclined to try something new and trendy like a canned wine, than a Gen Xer.
In general, when it comes to wine consumption, millennials want diversity and uniqueness. Unlike older generations, they want to try new varietals when they’re out that are different than what they drink at home, especially those on the older end of the generation. Because they’re not picking the same bottle every time, this is allowing for the trends to go in many directions, rather than being monopolized by just a few wineries.
If we’re going to talk about the relationship between millennials and wine, we obviously have to discuss rosé and the effect this generation had on an entire section of the wine industry. Twenty years ago, rosé was an unpopular drink; most people thought it was unsophisticated and in poor taste. However, by 2017, rosé sales had reached over $389 million annually and it’s almost exclusively because of millennials. When this generation becomes obsessed, we see the results in the economy.
One of the key factors in the millennial difference in regards to wine is how they choose their bottle. Older generations looked to sources like Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator with their numerical ratings and ranking systems but Millennials don’t buy things that way. Instead, they look for written reviews by real people, and on a more personal level, they turn to those closest to them for recommendations. That’s why websites like VinePair and WineFolly have grown in popularity- millennials want to hear it from people like them, not from some fancy expert who doesn’t understand their needs and wants.
Millennials get a lot of grief for their interesting behaviors and perspectives, especially for the older crowds, but the reality is that those divergent views are staking a huge claim on some of our biggest industries, and they need to be taken seriously.
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