Millennials Prefer Downing A Hard Seltzer To Uncorking Some Wine

Wine is falling out of favour with American drinkers as lower-calorie — and more portable — alcoholic beverages like hard seltzer surge in popularity.

Wine consumption in the U.S. dipped for the first time in 25 years in 2019, according to research from IWSR, which tracks trends in the spirits, wine and beer industry. The decrease is a modern anomaly: The last year in which the volume of wine consumption in the U.S. dipped was in 1994, according to IWSR.

One growing sub-category is sparkling wine, used in cocktails like an Aperol Spritz. Americans consumed 4% more of the bubbly stuff in 2019 compared to a year earlier. But the larger “still” wine category dropped 1.5%, bringing the total volume of wine consumption down by nearly 0.9%, the data show.

Blame changing consumer tastes — namely, millennials — for moving the liquor industry away from wine and toward other drinks. Consumption of hard seltzer grew by a whopping 50% in 2019 and already makes up about 40% of the ready-to-drink products category.

Hard seltzer’s convenience and relatively low-calorie count appeal to the younger, health-conscious set.

“Generational shifts in consumption have been a major concern as baby boomers age out and millennials show more of a preference for spirits and hard seltzers,” IWSR chief operating officer Brandy Rand said.

Some baby boomers, who for decades drove growth in wine sales, also have less disposable income as they retire or have health conditions that prevent them from consuming alcohol.