Millennials: Wine’s Newest Connoisseurs?

Survey finds the generation values a good price and ‘personal connection’

Like a fine wine, millennials are aging. And with that, they are quickly approaching prime wine-buying age.

The most active buyers of fine wine and luxury goods continue to be in the 35-to-55 age group, according to the Silicon Valley Bank’s State of the Wine Industry 2015 report. So as that era nears for millennials, many are wondering what effect their generation will have on the wine category, and the sale of it in your c-stores.

Seeking answers, California-based wine-research group Wine Opinions surveyed 2,634 wine drinkers to learn more about the wine preferences and buying habits of millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers.

“One of the biggest divides turned out to be the numerical rating system,” The Wall Street Journal’s Lettie Teague wrote of the Wine Opinions survey. “Millennials regard the 100-point scale as the creation—and the provenance—of their older wine-drinking peers. They won’t be ‘duped’ into buying an expensive wine just because some critic awarded it 92 points; they value stories and a personal connection.”

They also want their wine reasonably priced. Wine Opinions found millennials spend less money per bottle than their older peers—79% of regular millennial wine drinkers bought wines in the $10 to $15 range.

But more often than not, the three generations agreed. Millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers all liked red wine more than white or sparkling, and they all liked Moscato. And when asked if they would buy a bottle they had never tried or a new wine by the glass, 86% of millennials and 72% of boomers said they would.

Blends also have some pull with millennials. According to New York-based Nielsen, millennials lead the way among consumers who buy blends as well as single-varietal wines. Nielsen found 50% of Americans said blends are a great way to experiment with wine, about one-fourth (24%) said blends are more interesting, 20% said they are a better value and 19% said they like them because they are trendy.

Other observations from Wine Opinions’ 2015 survey of wine-drinking millennials:

  • 54% haven’t purchased—and have no interest in purchasing—wine in a can;
  • 22% subscribe to a print wine magazine, newsletter or other publication;
  • 85% have met someone after work for a glass of wine at least once in the past month;
  • 43% have visited four or more winery tasting rooms in the past 12 months;
  • 72% have posted a photo on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or other social media showing wine they enjoyed in the past month.