Gallup poll gives wine a thumbs down

The annual Gallup survey about the drink preferences of Americans is now out. After edging ahead of beer in 2005, wine has now fallen behind beer by eleven points, 42-31.

Really? I hadn’t noticed. Wine bars are springing up in many cities across the land as are better and better wine shops.

It might be a sign of the weak economy with more people saying they prefer beer, which is less expensive. But polls also bounce around a lot. And they’re simply surveys of attitudes, not actual behavior. It will be interesting to see if 2008 is the sixteenth year of consecutive growth in wine consumption in the US. What’s your bet?

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11 Responses to “Gallup poll gives wine a thumbs down”

  1. It’s a Friday evening in 2006–you’re 17, you have a decent fake ID, and three fellow post-adolescents are counting on you to bridge the gap between sobriety and happiness. Are you going to the corner bodega for 40s, or to the boutique wine merchant for a mixed half-case of Gewurztraminer and Bourgogne Passetoutgrains?

    The majority of American drinkers get started on beer. Most are just a boilermaker away from liquor, but enjoying wine is a considerably farther stretch. So there needs to be a constant influx of new, publicized reasons (health benefits, intellectual fun and games, Sideways, etc.) to give the juice a try. Otherwise the young’uns will be forever adrift on a sea of St. Ides.

    To your question: With the economy headed where it is, I think it’s a safe bet that all three alcohol-delivery vectors are in for a good year.

    Incidentally, didn’t Gallup call the 2004 election for Kerry?

  2. NPR Weekend Edition proclaims that 2007 was a record-breaker for US wine consumption at 304 million cases, surpassing the Italians for the first time ever. NPR’s report also mentions that this increase in consumption is due to the wide range of varieties of wine available to us here.

    I think that we’ll see some bouncing back and forth of consumer preferences in the years to come. I noticed that there has been more of an effort by the beer industry to market beer as a proper match for food, much in the way that wine and food pairing has been for years. It looks to me that the beer industry is working to elevate its image and that this effort may be renewing interest in beer among certain segments of US consumers.

  3. A thousand phone calls to unknown individuals who claim to be over 21 does not accurately assess the drinking habits of 300,000,000 people. Further more, I would expect any poll taken in the middle of July to favor beer, rum, or gin and tonic. They’ll probably do another survey next year on St. Pat’s Day.

  4. While I have never considered wine to be seasonal, I would agree with Leslie on this. Even though there are more than enough lovely whites to enjoy chilled this time of year, I think many Americans tend to consider wine a cool weather drink. Especially in the Midwest, where big, red wines reign supreme.

  5. American beer is getting better every day, and is produced all over the country. It’s one of the only alcoholic beverages you can make at home and actually end up with a decent product. Living in Memphis, if I want to “drink local”, I can either choose one of many outstanding microbrews (some made on-site in a brewpub), or go for a pretty nasty blueberry wine. Beer’s going to win that battle.

    Also, in Tennessee you can purchase beer in grocery stores and gas stations, but wine must be purchased from a liquor store, and they’re all closed on Sunday as well as federal holidays (like the 4th of July). Other states that have restrictive laws regarding wine and liquor tend to make it a lot easier to get beer. Frankly I’m surprised that wine sales are as good as they are!

  6. Benito’s right on. Beer is produced all over the U.S.; it’s local and cheap and often of good quality. I assume the increased popularity of wine here is due in some part to the “cocktail wine” crowd drinking over-oaked and over-extracted wines at bars and parties. The consumption of wine in Europe (which is going down as well) is related to the large amount of table wine consumed with meals. Until California, Oregon, Washington, Texas etc. start producing good, inexpensive table wines w/out market driven spoofulation there’s no reason to wish for increased popularity (unless you’re a vineyard owner or wine distributor). A knowledgeable, focused market seems best to me.

    Besides, who cares when you can drink both beer and wine and whatever else seems appropriate w/out choosing a “team”.

  7. If you look at the results from the first year to this year in light of the +/- 4% margin of error, American alcohol drinking habits haven’t changed much at all in 16 years.

    But, I agree, 625 alcohol drinkers is too small of a sample to conclude much.

  8. I’m in the industry in NYC and feel compelled to comment. Leslie was right on with her comments. The argument that all domestic wines lean towards “spoofy” is stupid. First of all… THOSE are the wines that ramp up the numbers we are discussing. 2ndly, in every region in the world, including the USA, there are wines that “do not follow” or simply, “buck the trend.” Good or bad… don’t generalize…ever. Period.

    As for numbers I believe that we can all agree that polling says whatever it wants to say prior to polling. Liars figure/figures liar.

    The economy is, well, junk, and I work for a store that is flourishing. AM and C just had an auction in HongKong. My blue collar father drinks 2 buck Chuck now instead of Miller High Life.

    The wine-world isa changin’ ona level that isn’t detected by Polls.

    My bet is more growth. Dr. V thanks for your website, which helped me find a job, and thanks for your continued commitment to dialogue.

    Any spelling errors I blame in 2005 Ch. de la Chaize from Brouilly. Not from my store but dang good.

  9. I think “Long Time Listerner” misunderstood my previous comment. But they’re right that you should avoid generalization so I should have said “Until (states) start producing MORE
    good, inexpensive table wine . . .” However, we agree that the wines I refer to as “market driven spoofulation” are what (I think) has driven up the poll numbers in favor of wine over the past few years.

    I know there are good wines made in the U.S. but I taste a lot of domestic samples at the wine shop I work at in Brooklyn and my own experience coupled with that of those I know as well as quite a few well known wine critics and writers leads me to believe that there is a lack of North American winemakers producing inexpensive, high quality table wines that could take the place of a Loire Cab. Franc, or Beaujolais (like what LTL was drinking) or Barbera etc. w/ my dinner. That’s too bad since those wines are becoming less affordable as well and I’d love for the West Coast to start competing in this market.

    I question why wine lovers would want increased popularity when this comes at the expense of distinctiveness and typicity. Not to mention the environmental and health concerns involved with mass produced, market driven wines. Sure, some use these wines as a gateway or stepping stone into the world of wine, but I don’t think this is a very large percentage of consumers or poll takers.

    The only answer is the idea of cheering for your “team” (wine vs. beer) which just seems outrageously silly to me. I think it’s fine that LTL’s father enjoys Charles Shaw, I also thinks it’s fine that he enjoys the High Life. But from what I know of production methods of these beverages there is little real difference; one is grape, one grain. I’d drink ’em both in a pinch.

  10. […] particularly among younger drinkers, consider this: the rise of wine tattoos! Yes, Gallup, some respondents in your survey may be fickle in their dedication to wine but consider these people who wear their hearts on (or under) their […]

  11. […] course surveys of attitudes toward drink can be fickle as the annual Gallup drinks survey has shown here in the US the past few years, but this one provides a lot of fine grained data with […]


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