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Why do women drink more wine than men?

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I met yet another young (mid-20s) guy yesterday who told me he’s so into beer that he’s brewing it at home, while his girlfriend is a wine lover who’s always trying to up his level of knowledge about vino.

What is it anyway about this gender divide that separates the [beer] men from the [wine] women, anyway? I’ve always wondered about this. My friend and I went to a sports bar last night that was packed with kids in their twenties and I swear all the ladies were drinking wine and cocktails while all the guys were swilling suds.

I guess we could go through the usual litany that beer is “masculine” while fancy martinis and wine are “feminine.” Certainly the big beer producers capitalize on this perception with their advertising, which is geared to guys who like to crush empty beer cans against their foreheads, and to the women who love them.

A recent study, from Nielsen, says that women comprise 55% of wine drinkers in America. But things may be changing: “in the last decade, men have become avid wine drinkers while drinking less beer.” The wine industry has done a pretty good job chipping away at perceptions that it’s an elite, slightly effeminate beverage, but there’s still a long way to go.

In an hour or so, I’m heading off to Jackson Family HQ in Santa Rosa for a couple of days for meetings. Today will be pretty busy, but I’ll try to post something for tomorrow morning (Friday). Have a great day!

  1. I think female beer lovers are also on the rise. My 2nd passion for Imperial Stouts started developing about 1.5 years ago. With the rise of craft breweries we have tons of super high quality and tasty beers. I could go for one now, actually. For me, it doesn’t mean less wine though. :)

  2. Bob Henry says:

    Steve,

    Insights into the shipper gender divide can be found in this timeless 1999 tome:

    “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping” by Paco Underhill.

    Link: http://www.powells.com/biblio/9781416595243

    Among the chapters:

    “Shop Like a Man”
    “What Women Want”

    Underhill expanded his studies into this 2010 tome:

    “What Women Want”

    Links:

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748703881504575345443332651672#printMode

    http://www.powells.com/biblio/9781416570202

    For the same fee charged by a “flying winemaker,” Jackson Family Wines can invite Underhill to the Left Coast for speaking engagement:

    http://www.leadingauthorities.com/speakers/Paco-Underhill.html

    ~~ Bob

  3. Bob Henry says:

    This seems to be my day for typos.

    Insights into the SHOPPER gender divide can be found in this timeless 1999 tome:

  4. It’s a historical/cultural thing (which later turned into a marketing thing). Lower-North-America (later the “good ‘ol US of A”) was originally “settled” by the British & Germanic europeans — good beer-drinkers all.

    Great Britain & the Germanic countries developed a beer-brewing tradition simply because they had crops heavier with grains, lighter in fruits. That means more beers, fewer wines.

  5. Easy: because they have to put up with men! :)

  6. Perhaps women have better taste!

  7. Brian M says:

    If I can add my two cents. Based on my experience I would say one reason is the quality of selection. In NYC, it is almost guaranteed that you can find a better selection of beer than wine at almost any given bar (excluding wine bars for the moment). I love wine and beer. Unfortunately, I find that most bars offer the equivalent of the Bud/Coors/Miller of the wine world while offering the equivalent of single vineyard & cru-level beer. Maybe my tastes are too highfalutin but that’s my observation.

  8. Matt: there’s a lot of truth in what you say.

  9. It could be because there is a much lesser chance for men to choose a bad beer than to choose a bad wine (and look bad in the process). I’ve come across quite a few social situations where a man will simply choose a beer (or familiar spirit) in lieu of wine because that’s what they know. Does that mean that women are risk takers?

  10. One reason that women may be going for wine is that there is a perception that it is less fattening than beer (whether true or not.). But what I’d like to know, especially from women out there, is if you think a stat I heard recently is true. I heard from a friend (woman vintner) that, while women buy/drink more wine overall, it is men who purchase the vast majority of wine priced over $55 per bottle. She said that her wine sales for high priced wines bore this out. Our wine sales are slanted toward men but by a relatively small margin. (Our wines are in that $55 and over category.).

  11. I don’t drink wines in places like sports bars because the selection is terrible. I enjoy both beer and wine but reserve my wine drinking for places where I can get a good glass. Tracey is right, women tend to approach beer as fattening and/or filling and therefore choose cocktails or wine.

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