A new wine consumption survey, conducted by Wine Opinions, offers some rather disturbing findings, indicating that Americans are moving away from drinking wine with meals, preferring to drink it on its own. And it is the Millennials, the next wine generation, which is drinking the least amount of wine with meals. Why is this happening?
The survey involved some of the "most frequent purchasers and consumers of wine" and those are the type of people I would have expected to drink wine the most with meals. 41% of the respondents drank wine with a meal while 26% drank wine without food, the rest drinking wine while preparing a meal or with snacks/appetizers. Women drink less wine with food than men, 29% vs 25%. The largest group that drinks wine without food are the Millennials, at 31%! In fact, it is the oldest generation, that over 65 years old, which drinks the most wine with food, about 50%, and each younger generation is drinking less and less with food.
This seems to indicate that Americans are moving away from drinking wine with food, away from a more European view of wine. In Europe, many see wine and food as integrally linked, and thus rarely drink wine without food. That contributes to making wine a closer element of their culture and society, rather than just being another alcoholic beverage. So what does it say about Americans that they are more and more preferring to drink wine on its own? Are they more concerned about the alcoholic effects of wine than how it might enhance their dinner? Is wine being viewed more as just another alcohol, and not more as a food?
I don't like this trend and its potential ramifications. I think the American wine culture would benefit from more people viewing wine as an accompaniement with food, rather than a stand alone product to alter your mind. Thinking of wine more as an alcohol can have an effect on our legislators, giving them additional justification for their more draconian wine laws. It may also affect the type of wines that U.S. wineries produce, as they cater to the desires of younger consumers. I always thought that more and more wine consumers were learning to drink wine with food, but I was very wrong. The opposite is actually the truth.
Can this movement be changed? If so, how can it be changed? And if you don't think it should change, why not?