Wine consumption worldwide has been pretty stable throughout the past 20 years, with some annual variations of course but generally it is a mature market, dominated by some historical countries, namely the biggest production countries.
However, throughout the last decade, there have been concerns in several countries regarding the loss of interest towards wine in the younger adults of legal drinking age. This is the case in two key markets which are the US and the UK. In 2010, the 21–34-year-old group represented 28% (US) and 24% (UK) of regular wine drinkers, but that figure dropped to only 18% and 14% in 2020.
Increased competition from other types of beverages such as hard seltzers or spirits is one reason that explains this trend but there are others, including abstaining from alcohol altogether. However, the good news is that the younger generation who are consuming wine seem to be more passionate and curious than their parents, and might be more inclined to learn, experiment, discover and drink more premium wines.
In France, the decline in consumption in the 18-39 age group has been a source of concern for a while now. However, statistics are more encouraging than the expected trend! This young age group accounts for 28% of all wine drinkers in France, which is considerably higher than other countries such as the UK and US.
Drinking patterns for the young generations are close to the anglo-saxon countries: wine is consumed in a festive environment, during social occasions, and there’s interest in discovering new flavours as well as food and wine pairings.
So, should we be concerned about the generational changes regarding wine consumption? Well, there’ll always be several ways of seeing things. Global trends around health might lead to a global drop in wine consumption in the following years.
The younger generations will be leading this trend, but to say that they will no longer be drinking wine in the future would be very misleading. New generations including generation Z are quite complex and heterogenous, but they are curious of fermented beverages and will show interest, especially when it comes to discovery, education and taste.
The current decade is probably a great opportunity for winemakers to connect with younger consumers, through education, new channels of communication, and highlighting the more premium and/or unusual wines in their portfolio.