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09.2011

Massachusetts Beverage Business

archivedOnWineReport

WINE CATCHES UP WITH BEER

The wine industry is surely raising a glass to this. For only the second time in two decades, wine has tied beer as the top choice when US drinkers were asked whether they most often drink liquor, wine or beer. Gallup now finds nearly as many drinkers naming wine (35%) as beer (36%), while liquor still registers third at 23%. The 36% of US drinkers favoring beer in Gallup’s July poll ties for the lowest Gallup has recorded for the popular beverage since initiating this measure in 1992. The other low reading came in 2OO5, at the same time Americans’ preference for wine temporarily surged to 39%. Beer regained a solid lead at the top spot, until this year. The 35% now favoring wine and 23% liquor are near the record highs for these beverages, although preferences have generally fluctuated around the current levels since about 2OO3. Preference for beer declined among all age groups this year, but it declined the most among young adults – dropping to 39% today from 51% in 2O1O. By contrast, middle-aged adults’ preference for beer fell just three percentage points (to 41% from 44%), and older adults’ fell two points (to 27% from 29%). Younger adults’ decreased preference for beer is accompanied by slight increases in their preferences for liquor and wine. Additionally, 2% of young adults this year said that they most often drink cordials, up from less than 1% in 2O1O and in most prior years. The predominance of beer as Americans’ favorite drink has waned over the past two decades, but that decline was punctuated this year with a five-point drop in mentions of beer, from 41% to 36%. This was driven largely by a 12-point decline among younger adults. Beer’s loss corresponds with slight gains in preferences for wine and liquor, both of which consequently register near their two-decade highs in 2O11. While meaningful, this year’s shifts are not much different in magnitude from those seen in 2OO5 – changes that proved temporary. Whether beer continues to lose ground or rebounds may depend on the future direction of young adults’ drink preferences.

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