Wine Drinkers Unadventurous in the Spirits Department

Wine drinkers imbibe a lot more beer than previously realized. And even if they like unusual wines, when they buy spirits they go mainstream.

Studies of the U.S. alcohol market often treat wine and beer drinkers as separate tribes. But two different speakers on Tuesday at the Wine Industry Financial Symposium in Napa looked at the crossover, and it is considerable.

John Gillespie of Wine Opinions told the symposium that 25 percent of high-frequency wine drinkers also report drinking beer either daily or several times a week.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, high-frequency wine drinkers prefer craft beer, by a large margin, and 60 percent report that they “never” drink domestic beer “priced below premium.”

But the spirits habits of wine lovers are unexpected. Vodka is the favorite (as it is with the general public), although American whiskey is in second place. And the only spirits that a majority of high-frequency wine drinkers say they “never” drink are Canadian whiskey, and brandy and Cognac. The base material for the latter two is, ironically, grapes.

“Maybe what wine lovers are saying is, ‘Whatever you do, don’t distill it,'” Gillespie said.

Wine lovers’ favorite vodka is reported to be Grey Goose, which makes some sense as it’s from France. For American whiskey, Wine Opinions found they prefer Jack Daniel’s, and for Scotch, they eschew single malts in favor of Johnnie Walker.