Wine consumption in the U.S. in 2007 rose again for the fifteenth consecutive year.
Walter Nicholls of the Washington Post has written a fascinating article, "The U.S. is turned on to wine," that was published today in the Houston Chronicle. The article discusses how wine consumption has increased, and why.
Estimates for 2007 could place the U.S. ahead of Italy in per-capita consumption, second only to France. One of the reasons for the increase is a growing number of working women with high incomes. Women continue to buy more wine than men, as I have posted about previously.
Another factor for the increase is how wine is marketed. It is said that wine is becoming more approachable, less pretentious. Yellow Tail is given as an example.
This is a topic that tangentially arose the other day in a discussion on Twitter. We were discussing why wine blogs seem to get much less comments than food blogs. One possible reason was that wine was too intimidating, that people felt less comfortable commenting about it as they did not want to seem ignorant. As wine bloggers, we are trying to make wine more approachable as well. We want to give our readers information they can understand and from which they can learn. We are trying to get our readers to try more wines, different wines. we want them to explore all the possibilities of the wine world.
The article then mentions more interesting statistics. 90% of all wine, by volume, is sold in a grocery store for under $10. The average price of wine that people are willing to purchase though has risen from $6-8 to $10-15.
This coincides with something I read the other day in a wine book. It stated that 95% of all wine purchased is drank within 48 hours of purchase. Most consumers are seeking inexpensive, ready to drink wine. I am concerned though that grocery stores are the primary place where people are buying wine. I don't feel that most grocery stores have the best variety. Grocery stores generally stock the large, mass produced wines, the most common brands. Small producers have difficulty getting stocked in most grocery stores. I think consumers need to realize that specialty wine stores can deliver quality wines at reasonable prices. And that they can find more variety at these wine stores.
Chardonnay is still the most popular varietal, accounting for about 20% of all wine sales, though older consumers tend to be the greatest purchasers.
It appears that younger consumers are more adventurous than older consumers. They are more willing to try different varietals. They are not as beholden to traditional varietals. It is possible that wine blogs are having an impact on younger consumers, who are more apt to be Internet savvy. Most of the wine blogs I know talk about a wide range of wines, far more than just the traditional varietals. They try to get people to try new wines and varietals. Hopefully, they are having an impact.