The white wine market is failing to engage younger consumers, however what can it do to alter that?
© Image by StockSnap from Pixabay|More youthful customers do not seem to care about white wine at all– which is a concern for the industry.
What would make Millennials and Gen-Z purchase more wine? It’s an existential question for the red wine industry, and if I had the answer, I would not be punditing: I would sell it to Gallo or Constellation for millions of dollars.
What I do know is what hasn’t worked, at least up until now. Here’s a brief history of recent stopped working efforts to reach younger consumers.
The Moscato boom
Sales of Moscato doubled in 2010 and increased another 70 percent in 2011 after rap artists promoted it in songs. There’s a good lesson here: if wineries can get contemporary musicians to mention their red wines, that is the kind of publicity that works. Sadly a legion of TikTokers and Instagram influencers isn’t near equal to a shout-out in a Drake song.
However, the Moscato boom was short-term. I’m not totally sure why, but my guess is since cheap Moscato simply isn’t very good. Americans have a craving for sweets, which they don’t like to admit, and making a wine that’s sweet however still well balanced is difficult.
The marketing for most red-blend wines connects straight to young men, with labels like 19 Criminal activities and The Prisoner and spokesmen like Snoop Dogg. And like Moscato, it worked for a while. Red blends were the fastest-growing sector of the industry for a long time. Now sales are dropping off.
This is a shame since red blends are an outright dream product for the white wine market. Unlike Moscato, which is a specific grape that took place to be in brief supply in many white wine areas, red blends can be made from anything. They’re a terrific way to use up all that Merlot and Zinfandel that’s hard to sell as varietal white wines.
Like Moscato, these white wines are mostly on the sweet side. I wonder if that leads inexorably to a decrease? The white wine industry has actually been hoping that Millennials will discover their method to white wine as they reach their 40s, however maybe at that point they choose to quit on openly sweet beverages and consume spirits (with sweet mixers) instead.
A strength of red blends production-wise — they can be anything from anywhere– eventually becomes a marketing weak point to a generation that prizes openness and accountability. One might hope that red blend drinkers would find dry wines and after that local wines and varietal red wines. Maybe some will, but that doesn’t appear to be occurring.
Canned white wines
One of the greatest problems for red wine is the package. A glass bottle is ecologically unsound, and unless it has a screwcap– which all entry-level wines need to– it takes a special tool and a little expertise to open. It’s also 3-5 servings, which not everybody desires all the time.
Canned red wines continue to grow in appeal due to the fact that they are best in almost every way. The serving size is smaller. They’re portable. Cans are much lighter and much better for the environment. I love everything about canned wines! Except for the fact that too many of them taste metal. The can seems to impact red wine flavor more than it impacts beer. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but if someone could exercise some type of can liner that would give white wine the exact same flavor it gets out of a glass bottle, they could save the white wine industry.
Much of the excitement from younger people in huge cities– especially those in food media– has to do with natural red wines. It’s easy to demonize included sulfites and natural red wine manufacturers do an excellent job of it, weakening the remainder of the industry by saying, all the time, that traditional white wine is filled with added chemicals.
Who would want to “graduate” from natural red wine? Standard red wines are more dependable and typically taste much better, however purchasing one need to seem like a Mexico City native going to Taco Bell. So regrettably even though natural red wines do interest some youths, it’s a dead end for the rest of the market.
Moreover, if you believe traditional white wine is cliquish and sometimes hard to comprehend, spend a long time around the natural red wine community. You can’t just find out areas and grapes: you need to know private manufacturers that just make a few thousand cases each, so you’ve constantly got to discover more. Also, I was a music geek before I was a red wine geek and the natural wine crowd reminds me of that time: everybody attempting to out-hip each other. If you live in New york city it’s thrilling to remain in the in-crowd, however if you do not, what’s your entry into it? And while I have had lots of delicious natural wines, the truth that a few of them taste like mouse but the sommelier, instead of taking it back, will lecture you that that’s how it’s supposed to be does not help.
So, what’s next? The red wine market ought to think about going to Jay-Z, a white Burgundy fan, and asking on flexed knee for he and his wife, also a musician of some renown, to do some sort of combined album about wine. Trade him a Napa Valley estate for it. It would deserve it.
The motion picture “Sideways” sold a boatload of Pinot Noir. Maybe the Gallo family ought to hire some brilliant writer/director to come up with a white wine movie. I believe Joss Whedon is searching for work. Picture an ordinary lady working in some dead-end job who one day drinks a glass of Merlot and becomes a superhero! Or maybe there’s an ominous alien conspiracy to turn all our brains into mush, and it turns out old-vine Zinfandel is the only treatment. Get to work, Joss.
One thing the red wine industry requires to do is resist versus the drumbeat of negativity regarding health and alcohol. It’s limited in what it can state, as federal regulators will not allow them to state that red wine benefits you. However there are a great deal of inadequately done studies coming out of England lately and that has a cumulative impact.
The response to that problem is professional athletes. Basketball gamers love white wine, and we read some amusing stories about it, but it hasn’t truly been touted by the industry. The white wine market need to try it, because if a top-condition athlete can take pleasure in wine after the video game, it reveals that it’s not as bad for you as the neo-Prohibitionists claim.
This might be cyclical. Bourbon was down and out as an industry 30 years ago, and look at it now. Perhaps whoever occurs after Gen-Z will choose to take up red wine even if their moms and dads did not. However can the white wine market pay for to wait to learn?
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