Wine And Sex Off The Millennial Menu

Wine producers are being urged to try to seduce the younger generation to avoid a gloomy future. 

Just as the wine industry is discovering that many Millennials find wine boring, new plantings of grapevines are gradually turning California from 32 Flavors into a chocolate, vanilla or strawberry state.

The State of the Industry presentation Wednesday at the annual Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento wasn’t quite as gloomy as Silicon Valley Bank’s dark take on the future two weeks earlier. Instead of “duck and cover”, it was more motivational, as grape growers were encouraged to strap their boots on and fight for their future.

But the numbers for the immediate future aren’t promising for the industry – though they might be for wine drinkers. That’s the good news: prices are not going up.

Why not? Wine may have to recapture the image of cool; to not be your father’s beverage. As Glenn Proctor from the Ciatta Company grape brokerage put it: “I don’t know if another wine in a 750ml bottle, cork-finished with a pretty label is going to get Millennials involved.”

Here’s a mind-boggling stat courtesy of Nielsen. Rosé, we know, is as hot as wine gets. Rosé sales continue to grow fastest of any wine category in the US (as well as in France). Rosé wine is so popular that it’s a cultural phenomenon. Now comes the slap in the face.

Hard seltzer – sparkling water with alcohol added – currently sells as much in the US as rosé wine, said Danny Brager, Nielsen vice president of client services. And hard seltzer didn’t even exist six years ago! But hard seltzer appeals to Millennials, especially those who perceive it as somehow healthier, and perhaps more interesting, than “traditional” alcohol. And you don’t need wine grapes to make hard seltzer; any industrial alcohol will do.