In January, the 2023 State of the Wine Industry Report was released by Silicon Valley Bank, a longtime analyst of the wine industry in the U.S. While the report was chock full of data, what stood out to many (including Eric Asimov at The New York Times), was that the greatest loss in consumption share is with young wine drinkers– consumers aged 21 to 40, i.e. millennials and Gen Z-ers. Conversely, the biggest growth area was among those over 60—meaning Baby Boomers.
This information didn’t come as a surprise to many in the industry who have been aware of wine’s appeal to a mostly older crowd, but now it’s becoming clear that something must be done to reach young wine drinkers. And with plenty of millennials and Gen Z folks working in the industry, it seems like a no-brainer to ask them for advice on how to attract their peers.
To that end, we spoke with people in the wine industry who are below the age of 40 about ways to attract young wine drinkers. Here’s what they shared.
Offer Creative Tasting Experiences
Danya Degen, Millennial
(Director of Operations and Wine for Duck & The Peach, La Collina and The Wells in Washington, D.C.)
“Traditional tasting experiences are costly—a wine dinner, a trip to wine country [or] even walking into your local wine store has some risk built in. They cost money, they operate on the buy-to-try model and require the guest to already be interested in wine,” Degen says. If restaurants and retailers want to capture the young people who don’t yet have that interest, she continues, they need to create more affordable, experiential tasting experiences.
“Get creative with the menu venue, show them something delicious from where the wine is from, touch on an additional sense by bringing in music or art and introduce them to people who made the wine!” she suggests. It’s also important to keep these events accessible. “Keep the event to the cost of an affordable ($20) bottle of wine,” Degen stresses.
Give Explorative Pours
Tia Polite, Gen Z
(Sommelier at Indienne in Chicago)
“I believe the most important thing we can offer as sommeliers is explorative pouring,” says Polite. “I will try, whenever possible, to pour tastes for people who are curious or lost within the ‘By the Glass’ list and share insight into the production differences, climate and regionality of bottles, if they are interested.”
She also encourages young wine drinkers to take pictures of the bottles they love so that they have a record of their wine preferences. “It makes entering a wine shop and exploring a little less stressful,” she says.
Champion Social Change
Robin Wright, Millennial
(Beverage Director at Ci Siamo in New York City)
“A way to reach Gen Z is first recognizing what their generation represents,” explains Wright. “I believe their generation is looking to support social change. Championing and recommending farm-focused [and] organic vineyards, female-driven wineries and Black-owned wineries is a great step in the right direction.”
Disclose Nutritional Information
Jessica Blumenthal, Millennial
(Founding VP of Brand & Innovation at Avaline)
“Wine brands should start disclosing their nutritional information and ingredients,” says Blumenthal. “There’s a misconception among consumers that wine is high in sugar because the industry doesn’t talk about it, and I really believe it puts the category at a disadvantage when compared to other alcoholic beverages.”