It is no secret that America loves their alcohol. Alcoholic drinks show to be all the rage here in America, gracing food articles, movies, restaurant commercials, and even those driver ed documentaries about the effects of drinking and driving. Drinking alcohol is extremely common for the average American and it’s something that Americans enjoy doing, whether it be having a glass every night after a stressful work day or sipping a beer with a friend for social reasons. It showed to be even more of a craze, during prohibition, in which alcohol became a deadly dealing and speakeasies were the secret, forbidden talk of the town. We surely saw that Americans didn’t react too kindly to having their alcohol taken away from them and the horrible crimes and violence that took place during prohibition is proof of that. Analyzing sales post prohibition and somewhere in the 70’s, beer took the lead in dominating alcohol sales with liquor coming in second and wine coming in third. Yet, a 2016 report now shows that wine has definitely kicked its game up a notch for fellow Americans and is now the 2nd quickest selling in house intoxicant, knocking liquor down to 3rd place. Why is that? What has changed in the mindset of Americans (or possibly the wine industry) that has caused wine to gain a sure popularity and knock down liquor over the past couple of decades? It’s quite an interesting question to ask, so here I’ve listed some intensive reasons that could possibly be the explanation as to why wine sales have switched dramatically over the years.
Wine Production and Sales in the US
Before we get ahead of ourselves and dive into the why’s of just how Americans are starting to love their wine, we must approach the statistics that are telling us this telltale fact. A statistic report from Dr. Liz Thach states that wine sales approached a revenue of about $60 billion dollars in 2016, $39.8 billion of that being from domestic wine, and the remaining $20.2 billion coming in from imports. It’s reported that the amount of money Americans now spend per bottle of wine is about $10. The reported $39.8 billion made from domestic wine in 2016 was a 5% increase from sales in 2015. In 2015, about 375 million cases of wine were sold in the US, while in 2016, that number increased to 399 million cases sold in the US. There’s no doubt about it that wine sales have experienced a tremendous soar in sales and popularity and will see a steady increase and growth in sales and production in the future years to come. In addition to this, beer sales have been seeing steady decline from year to year. Of course not enough to knock beer sales as being the #1 seller among alcoholic drinks, but definitely enough for wine sales to catch up with the growth and revenue that they are bringing. Of course this begs the question of why?
Health Benefits of Moderate Wine Consumption
Maybe the reason why so many people are shifting to a preference for wine over beer could be due to their listed health benefits? Yes that’s right. Drinking wine in moderate consumption can actually have some added health benefits. For starters, a Finnish study was conducted over a period of 29 years in which 2,468 men were observed and studied in terms of mortality rate and whether they drank wine or beer. It turns out that the occasional wine drinkers have a 34% lower mortality rate than their beer and spirit drinkers. Wine has also been linked to lowering the risk of heart attack. This finding comes from a Harvard study that was conducted with 11,711 men over a 16 year period. It turns out that moderate wine drinkers with high blood pressure, in comparison to nondrinkers, had a 30% less chance of getting a heart attack. Red wines consist of tannins that contain an ingredient that has been linked to lowering the risk of heart disease. Wine consumption in moderation can also lead to lowering depression. A study was done with 2,822 women and 2,683 men aged 55 to 80, in which they were analyzed over a seven year period and were carefully observed in terms of their dietary habits, mental health, and wine consumption. It turns out that those who had moderate doses of wine in their life (around 2-7 glasses per week) were less likely to be diagnosed with depression. It was reported by Scientists from the University of Leicester in UK that regular consumption of wine actually had the ability to reduce bowel tumors by about 50%. Wine also contains an important ingredient known as resveratrol. This ingredient is commonly found on the skin of grapes, cranberries, and nuts and when given to mice, they actually showed evidence of improving the life span of the mice. Harvard and other notable schools have conducted research that proves the connection between resveratrol and anti aging properties. Of course now talking about all the great benefits of consuming a moderate amount of wine, that begs the question, exactly what is a moderate amount of wine? Of course this all is going to depend on the body’s absorption of alcohol (which can be affected by gender). The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has placed guidelines on what moderate alcohol consumption is and it turns out that moderate pertains to about one glass a day for women and two glasses a day for men. With health benefits like this, wine makes beer and other alcoholic drinks look like a life sucking nightmare. It’s no wonder that Americans are making the switch.
Affordability of Wine
Maybe America’s growing interest in wine cannot just relate to the health benefits it provides, but also the affordability that wine can bring. Yes, we know wines can come in very hefty prices, costing about $50 or over at restaurants (if you really want to try the best of the best), but the thing is that good wine can cost less than $20 and bad wine can cost over $50. I mean you can’t even really put a label on bad wine anyways since wine is just so diverse and distinctive in flavor that everyone’s taste buds can see good in what others may say a “bad wine.” The point is that delicious and flavorful wine can most definitely beat the taste of regular, old beer and good wine is not something that you have to pay an arm or a leg for. There are actually really amazing, flavorful wines that can beat the same old taste of beer and be just as cheap. Yes, this is what I’m saying. Wine is not just for the rich and snobby who have hundreds of dollars to blow. Cheap wine from stores can still carry better flavors than those $100 bottles and the ability to know what kind of cheap, good wine you can buy really only comes down to some studying. There are some wines with a rep of being absolutely great in flavor and under $15! If you are looking for some good red wines, that are rich and fruity in flavor, check out wines such as the 2014 Bogle Petite Sarah, 2012 Lockhart Pinot Noir, 2014 Woop Woop Shiraz, a 2014 Mazzei Badiola and more. If your palette is feeling white wines, which have a bit more of a citric flavor, then check out wines such as the 2015 Inama Soave Classico, 2015 Hugel Alsace Gentel, 2014 Giesen Marlborough Rising and more. If your heart contents a more flowery and fruity taste, check out some rosés such as the 2015 Muga Rioja Rosada, 2015 Château Guiot Costières de Nîmes, NV Freixenet Cordon Brut Cava Rosado and more! All these great tasting and diverse flavored wines offer something totally new from beer and spirits and are under $15, making it just as cheap but way more great tasting.
Spontaneity Behind Wine
Wine is most definitely not like other alcoholic drinks. Many Americans will agree that wine can be a hit or miss. You either are going totally love that Pinot Noir from the restaurant down the street and then you are going to try the same Pinot Noir, across the country and pucker your lips in disgust. This is the fact of wine. Every wine is different even when you order the same wine over and over again. Each new bottle is going to taste either slightly or completely different and that’s going to depend on a lot of factors such as how the wine was packaged, where it was packaged, what cork was used for the wine, and other factors. You can buy a wine for home and it’s going to taste dramatically different from a year to year basis. Drink it too soon and it will taste rough, drink it too late and it will taste bland. Yes these are true of wine and yet despite all these factors it’s still becoming an American favorite. Why is that? It’s spontaneous. Wine is adventurous. It’s getting out of your comfort zone and going past your average, weekly burger and beers that are going to taste the same everywhere you go. It’s getting a new surprise and a new flavor with a new bottle. It is learning what you love and what you hate. There is absolute fun in discovering new things. There’s something exhilarating behind not knowing what you are going to expect from something. Americans love this. They crave this, and that reason easily could be why wines are slowly blowing other alcoholic drinks out of the water.
Wine and Food Pairing
It could be that America’s new obsession with wine could be linked to the way wine and food just go so well together in a manner that is highly breathtaking and superior. Wine truly has the potent ability of bringing out flavors in food, that make eating and dining so much more intense. The many diverse flavors of wine from smoky, fruity bitter, silky, flowery, sweet, sour, citrus, to aromatic and spicy, makes practically any food go extremely well with wine. Americans could now be realizing the endless possibilities and fun wine can bring to regular lunches and dinner. Here are some examples of the best foods to pair your wine with.
Flavors: Plum, black currant, blackberries, mint, eucalyptus, cedar
Food Pairings: Braised stews, sauces with lots of peppers or mushroom, pot roast, marbles beef, marinade soy sauce
Flavors: Cherries, cloves, cinnamon, smoke, violet, plum
Food Pairings: Lamb, fruit sauces with meat, many cheeses, lentils, mushrooms, salmon, tuna, poultry
Flavors: Blackberries, blueberries, chocolate, tobacco, cedar, black olive, dried cherries
Food Pairings: Lamb, fish, meaty sauces, tenderloin, mushroom, herbs, black olives
Flavors: Pear, Melon, Green Apple, Peach, Lemon
Food Pairings: Corn, risotto and pasta, creamy/buttery sauces, nuts, chicken/turkey, shellfish
Flavors: Tropical flavors, melon, tart lemon, grapefruit
Food Pairings: Cheese (like goat cheese), green vegetables (peas, artichoke, zucchini), pesto, herbs, vinaigrettes, oysters
Flavors: Tangerine, peach, apricot, citrus
Food Pairings: Mild curry, fruity or spicy condiments, Moroccan foods with aromatic spices, braised vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and squashes, crabs, prawn, lobsters
Flavors: Cherries, flowers, herbs, strawberries, spices
Food Pairings: Grilled Buttermilk chicken, spicy seafood, curried salmon cakes, spring aioli, chicken with sweet onions and peppers, prosciutto panini
Give some of these delicious pairings a try and you will see why all of America is learning to love the exquisiteness and beauty wine can bring to food, flavors, and fun!
We already know that alcohol is a favorite among the average American. Americans love the idea of good, mouthwatering food and a great tasting drink to go with that. That is already a known fact, but now we’ve explored the possible reasoning behind why so suddenly wine is now becoming the new drink, knocking other alcoholic drinks off the market.We’ve already established that wine has great health benefits, endless food pairings, affordability to that of average alcoholic drinks, and it offers a pleasant surprise every time. Whether these reasons be the support as to why wine is creating a storm amongst Americans or other unforeseen circumstances have been the cause, one thing is for sure; Wine has exotic qualities that surpass other drinks and Americans are finally catching on to this gem of a drink.