I recently read an intriguing article published last year at winebusiness.com about the 2015 Survey of American Wine Consumers Preferences by Liz Thach and Kathryn Chang.
The survey, conducted by California’s Sonoma State University and the Wine Business Institute, looks at Americans’ wine-buying habits and preferences.
The American market has not always been the largest in terms of wine consumption, especially compared with countries such as Italy and France, but according to the study, we have been since 2010. So what exactly are we buying, why do we buy it and where do we buy it? These are some of the questions addressed in the survey.
The survey collected data from wine consumers in all 50 states and comprised 1,072 American wine consumers (59 percent women and 41 percent men) and a mix of ages and socioeconomic groups.
The racial breakdown was 65 percent white, 13 percent Hispanic, 11 percent black and 11 percent Asian. The median annual income was $50,000 to $69,999, with 18 percent of participants earning more than $100,000.
The survey respondents were highly educated, with 60 percent with a college degree (compared with roughly 30 percent of the U.S. population). So it is fair to say that while this survey may reflect the tastes and habits of the average wine drinker, it isn’t representative of the average American.
The majority (56 percent) of respondents reported that they consume wine daily or several times per week.
Using a “check all that apply” question format, respondents were asked to rank 12 popular wine varietals. There were no surprises here, with chardonnay (the most popular wine in America) on top, followed closely by merlot. And even though we don’t always want to admit it, we are a white zinfandel drinking nation, as it came in third. Pinot grigio, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and Riesling rounded out the top seven, respectively.
Participants were asked about their preferred styles of wine as well, with a near tie between fruity and semi-sweet. The least favorite style was tannic wines.
Price and brand were the top factors that influence which wines we buy, according to the survey. Thirty-two percent of Americans prefer wines in the $10-$15 price range to drink at home, with only 12 percent reporting they spend more than $46 per bottle. Wine shops and liquor stores are the preferred place to buy wine (30 percent), followed by grocery stores (17 percent), with online sales coming in at the bottom with just 6 percent.
All in all, the study offered interesting statistics on our wine preferences. So, before judging friends and family buying $10 bottles of fruity white zinfandel for not being “real” wine drinkers, you may want to reconsider.