Covering key topics including well-being, Gallup in a recent article, titled “Young Adults in U.S. Drinking Less Than in Prior Decades,” notes that young adults have become progressively less likely to use alcohol during the past two decades. Meanwhile, drinking among older Americans is trending upward and middle-aged adults are holding fairly steady.

Similarly, as the wine industry isn’t immune to demographic trends, Silicon Valley Bank in its “2023 State of the Wine Industry Report,” points to consumers younger than 60 as having a lower share of wine consumption compared with what they did in 2007. Meanwhile, consumers older than 60 are the population bands where there is growth for wine.

Among other key takeaways, the report points to premiumization trends as slowing, as older consumers are paying more for premium wine while younger buyers are increasingly less engaged with the wine category.

Given how demographics are impacting wine consumption, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits (SGWS) dug a little deeper, providing more of a flavor of what exactly each generation is pouring and why. 

Among key insights, SGWS highlights some of the wine trends they are seeing by generation:

What wines baby boomers are drinking now  

  • Traditional wine varietals: Baby boomers will continue to be the dominant wine consumer in share of spend, in part because they’re still the largest generation by population, so traditional wine varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling) are here to stay.
  • Red and white, burgundy: Despite the scarcity and high prices they want them in their collection.
  • White wine varietals beat the heat: With hotter temperatures across the country, and some baby boomers ready to retire to warmer climates, chilled white wines from classic grape varietals are what they are buying.

What millennials and Gen Z are drinking now  

  • Natural wines: These are a mainstay of a younger demographic driven by global sustainability concerns and a desire for a lower ABV wine.
  • Rosé all day: Rosé is all millennial, all the time.
  • Red Zinfandel: A gateway for younger consumers to get into reds, this wine has made inroads with younger consumers based on its “juicy” and slightly sweet flavor profile balanced with rich, full flavor.

As far as which wines all generations and demographics are drinking, the company points to bubbly wines — Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and bubbly Prosecco.

Laura DePasquale, senior vice president of sales and commercial operations at Artisanal Wine Domaine & Estates Artisanal Wines, a division of Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits, added: “Although natural wines are a mainstay for Gen Z wine drinkers, Bordeaux has been on the rise as they are discovering it and learning to appreciate it. Millennials tend to take a ‘Rosé all day, all the time’ attitude toward wines, while baby boomers continue to enjoy drinking Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.”