Wine biz doing okay despite recessionary fears
The national media is discovering the news, already several months old, that the U.S. has now become the world’s top wine consuming country. CNN and Bloomberg News actually had it last night as a top story: “Move over France, USA topping wine consumption,” CNN headlined it.
This doesn’t mean America has the highest per capita consumption. We simply drink more in total tonnage than any other nation, because we have so many people.
The Wine Institute says the average amount of wine consumed per resident last year was 2.54 gallons, up .04 gallons from 2009, and about 30% more than the 1.96 gallons per person in the year 1978, which is when I moved to Califronia and discovered wine.
Some pessimists lately are predicting that the lousy economy will reverse this upward direction. “Downturn to slow US wine consumption,” Decanter blared last week, but I don’t buy it. Americas continued to drink more and more during the worst of the recession, 2008-2009, although they also drank cheaper, and I expect we’ll continue to enjoy our wine, no matter how bad things get. Americans like to drink alcoholic beverages. We already were a beer and spirits consuming country before wine got big; now, we’re a wine drinking country too. Case sales of wine have been up in this country for 17 consecutive years, and it would take a catastrophe of unprecedented volume for that to reverse.
Last April, when the news about U.S. wine consumption came out, I blogged that Millennials get the credit for driving sales. My take on them is that they’ve got the wine bug now. They may be having problems getting jobs, or good jobs; they may have returned home for a spell to live with mom and/or dad, ‘til things get better. They may be sharing a two-bedroom flat with four of their friends, to make ends meet. Or they may be doing perfectly well, holding down well-paid gigs in our big cities. But one thing the recession isn’t going to rob them of is a nice glass of wine, at home or in a bar.
In fact, check out this article, by a marketing analyst. He says that, even though “this is not the best of times for Millennials,” they are “More likely to splurge on expensive alcohol brands [and] more likely to purchase wine and hard liquor than their previous generations.” It may sound cynical, but, the analyst concludes, even as the “Economy Crushes [the] Average American [the] Liquor Industry Rejoices.” Consumers, including Millennials, are spending less on everything from clothes to autos to vacations, but they’re drowning their troubles in wine.