By W. Blake Gray | Posted Thursday, 21-Oct-2021
In the US, are young men really the ones buying French wine, or is that just what they tell the poll-takers?
That’s the question raised by an intriguing Wine Opinions report released this week on “imported wine drinker profiles”.
If there is a stereotype of Americans who buy French wines, it’s the folks who boast about great deals they got on first-growth Bordeaux back in the 1980s. Those are mostly baby boomers. Thus the Wine Opinions report comes as a bit of a shock.
Of the consumers on the Wine Opinions panel, 72 percent of those under 40 reported buying French wines at least several times over the past 12 months, compared to only 56 percent of consumers over 40. The panel consists of high-frequency wine drinkers.
Men also reported buying French wine more frequently than women: 66 percent of men (of all age groups) said they did so at least several times in the past year compared to 52 percent of women. Spain had just as large a difference in favor of male consumers (57 percent to 43 percent). Neither of these numbers would be interesting if not for this: there was no gender difference in the reported rate of purchase of wines from the Southern hemisphere (Argentina, Australia, Chile and New Zealand).
So do US men like French and Spanish wines more than US women?
Keep in mind that previous surveys have shown that in the US, women buy slightly more wine than men, and men tend to spend more on it. So price might be a factor. But because these are self-reported purchases, not Nielsen data, we must also consider the gender difference in survey taking.
Christian Miller, Wine Opinions’ consultant for design & analysis, told Wine-Searcher that men always talk a big game on wine surveys.
“As a general rule, males usually will claim higher purchasing or aware/familiarity rates, when measured across a variety of appellations or varieties of drink,”
He said there are two reasons for this. One is that men are bigger spenders on wines, which exposes them to a wider variety of appellations and types of wine. But the other … have you met this person? Bet you have.
“Males usually claim greater knowledge of specifics in surveys, whether true or not,” Miller said. “They usually have higher agreement with specific or technical-sounding statements or claims that are wrong.”
As for the surprising lower interest in French wines from consumers over 40, Miller says that group includes a lot of baby boomers who drink mostly box or jug wines, low- or medium-priced Chardonnay, White Zinfandel and high-priced Napa/Sonoma wines. Those four types of wine may not seem to have much in common, but one thing they share is that in the US they are all mostly from California – which means those consumers aren’t as interested in buying wines from other countries. About 60 percent of all wine sold in the US is from California, according to the Wine Institute.
In fact, for every foreign country asked about in the survey – not just France – consumers under 40 reported buying wine more than consumers over 40. The finding was most striking for France, but wines from Argentina, Chile and New Zealand were also significantly more popular with consumers under 40.
The report concludes with this: “As to the generational disparity among imported wine buyers, we think of it this way: Baby Boomers and the California wine industry came of age together. They have ‘class reunions’ whenever wine o’clock rolls around. Millennials like California wines, too. But they have ‘studied abroad’ and are happily ‘multilingual’ in wine.”