Wine Drinkers by the Numbers


Good news, everyone – the latest statistics pertaining to wine drinkers are in! Even better news, the information revealed will appeal to most bar operators, not just those running venues dedicated to wine. We’re all familiar with the numbers concerning craft beers, craft cocktails, rum, vodka, brown spirits, and the battle between the latter two. However, it’s likely safe to assume that only a small percentage of operators doing business outside of the wine world know much about those who choose to imbibe vino. The following information will be of great value to wine bar operators and those who have been thinking about adding wine to their menus. With any luck, it will also inspire a significant number of our readers who previously skipped over the wine drinker demographic to rethink that decision. Cheers!

*Information provided by the Wine Market Council, the Wine Institute, Wines & Vines and the Gomberg-Fredrikson & Associates Report

Promising Percentages

When it comes to the sheer quantity of wine drinkers in the United States, the numbers are outstanding: 44% of the 230 million adults who live in America drink wine. Any consumer demographic representing nearly half of America’s adult population should certainly be in your sights. Occasional wine drinkers – those who consume the juice once a week or less – make up 29% (or 67 million) of all wine drinkers. The group everyone should be looking to capture – high frequency wine drinkers – represents 15%, or 34 million adult wine drinkers. That’s a lot of the US population looking to fork over the green for the red, white and rosé. Perhaps the most important statistic is this: for the 13th straight year in a row, wine consumption has been on the increase. You don’t need to install a wine cellar just yet but it would certainly behoove you to consider putting at least 4 or 5 good to great wines on your menu. The numbers tell a clear story: wine drinkers aren’t going to pay marked up prices for bad to mediocre wine.

Women & Wine

As an operator you should already be well aware that bars which appeal to women tend to have a greater shot at success. Attract more women to your bar, attract more men. Create an impactful venue that encourages guest interaction, increase the time they spend in your bar and the number of drinks they buy from you. Really, this is a tried and true formula that we all know, understand and embrace. This all brings me to a fantastic statistic: the top beverage choice of women for the past few years has been – and remains to be – wine. If you haven’t already done so, get a hold of your distributors and find out, at the very least, which of their wines are most popular. Put a red, a white, a rosé and a sparkling on the menu, learn how to make a few simple wine-based cocktails and watch your profits increase. Just make sure you’re not putting your distributors’ cheapest selections on your menu.

Capture the Dollars

The average retail value of all wine shipped to and within the United States is a whopping $36.3 billion. That’s a lot of valuable juice being snapped up by high frequency wine drinkers, your new favorite demographic. The average income of HFWDs is $82,900 with 81% of these valuable, potential repeat customers owning homes. Also, a whopping 63% of wine drinkers are likely married. These consumers have a craving for vino and the means to get their hands on it, bottom line. Guests with disposable income who consume alcoholic beverages frequently are the Holy Grail for operators, another reason to consider learning about and putting good wines on your menu.

Wine 101

How about a crash course in wine regions, focusing on the Big Four? The top wine-producing country in the world is France, home of famed and acclaimed wine regions Bordeaux and Champagne. Italy, which is famous for Chianti, Barolo, Pinot Grigio, Prosecco and Asti, comes in at number two. Spain buzzes in at number three, giving the world Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Albariño and Garnacha. Now, number four isn’t a country but a state: California. The Golden State produces more than 90% of all American wine. Why is this important information? It will help you to decide which wines to select for your menu and give you a place to start doing some wine research. Yes, this topic can be daunting but having just a small amount of knowledge can give you – and ultimately your staff – confidence when selling wine.

And now for an even crashier course in wine. There are 2 worlds of wine: Old World and New World. Very generally speaking, Old World wines come from the birthplaces of wine (Europe and the Middle East) and have been produced the same exact way for centuries, under very strict guidelines. New World wines are produced by regions that were once colonies (United States of America, New Zealand, Argentina, etc.) and tend to feature higher alcohol content than their Old World counterparts. You’ll also notice that labeling is different: Old World wines are named for the region (Bordeaux, Champagne) while New World wines are named for the varietal (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay).

Alright, let’s wake you back up now. From France, consider a refreshing Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc) as your white wine and a good Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and blends of these grapes) for your red. You can also consider a white Bordeaux, typically a blend of around 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. When looking at Italian wines, you can’t really go wrong with a Chianti Classico for red wine. The Chianti region is divided into 8 sub-zones, with Classico producing the premium juice. For white, Pinot Grigio is arguably the country’s best known wine, with Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio being one of the most famous across America. If you’re considering Spanish wines, choose a nice Tempranillo from the Rioja or Ribera del Duero region for your red and Albariño from Rías Baixas for your white. When it comes to choosing wines from California, Cabernet Sauvignon is called the King of Grapes for a reason (it’s the most popular wine in the world) with Chardonnay being your best bet for white. If you don’t feel like doing your own research, you can’t really go wrong with Kendall-Jackson, Acacia or Sterling on your menu for approachable, popular and generally inexpensive wines.