The development of regular, interested wine drinkers under the age of 35 in the US is more closely connected to parental drinking habits than any other factor.
According to a report released yesterday on US millennials by Wine Intelligence, parents have a “significant influence” on introducing under 35s to wine, “helping establish their ongoing behaviour with the category.”
The report, which defined millennials as anyone born after 1980, dubbed the most interested wine consumers in the US as “epicureans”, and recorded that over 80% of survey respondents from this group said they were from a wine-drinking family.
Speaking to Wine Intelligence CEO Lulie Halstead yesterday, she said the “key driver” for epicureans’ interest in wine “was the relationship their parents had with wine”.
Continuing she told db, “If wine was part of the social and cultural currency in their household then it was likely they would embrace a wine culture lifestyle more fully, and at a younger age.”
Halstead also said that she was surprised at the finding, noting that the level of interest in wine among drinkers over the age of 35 tends to be more closely correlated with income and education.
“The key factor that influenced whether they [under 35s] would be an engaged high spend wine drinker was not whether they were from a high income household with a high level of education, but whether they had grown up in a wine drinking household.
“Normally when we look at the relationship with high frequency drinkers from older age groups it is about income and status.”
Summing up, she said, “The millennial is choosing to engage in the wine-food culture almost independently of income and educational background.”
When asked why the North America’s millennial generation has wine drinking habits that are closely influenced by their upbringing, she said that the high legal drinking age could be a factor, as well as the nascent nature of the wine culture in the country.
“I think it is because the culture of wine drinking is relatively new in the US… and the legal drinking age being 21 means there is a fundamentally different relationship with alcohol compared to that we see in Europe.”
Continuing, she pointed out the importance of “parents introducing wine at home to under 21 year-olds in a safe cultural environment”.
On the other hand, she said, “But If you are not served wine at home, then your first real experience of drinking probably happens at college or in your first job – and then it can be more about excessive drinking or looking for cheapest alcohol available, and not engaging in a positive relationship with alcohol.”
The report identified three distinct groups of millennial wine drinkers, which it labelled “Epicureans”, “Developers” and “Peripherals”, in descending order of wine interest and consumption frequency.
It also said that there were currently 28.8 million millennial “regular wine drinkers” – defining “regular” as drinking wine “at least once per month”.
According to Wine Intelligence, these monthly wine drinkers under 35 now account for over 30% of the American wine drinking population, and have grown in both size and influence over the past five years.
Among the “epicurean” under 35s, the most popular red varieties consumed in the last six months were Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, while for whites it was Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Moscato.
However, the report said that the epicurean wine consumer tends to explore “unconventional” grapes such as Malbec, Pinotage, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, as well as Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Colombard.
The data for the report was collected in March and July this year, sampling over 4,000 “regular wine drinkers” across the US who were aged 21-34.