Food & Wine

Millennial Trendspotting: Is Wine Really Just for Special Occasions?

True or False: “Wine is transitioning to something people can enjoy on all occasions.”

Did someone say Birthday? Break out the rose baby!

Did someone say Birthday? Break out Rick Astley’s old jacket and the rosé baby!

Is wine really just suitable for special occasions?

It seems like just about every time I read about wine and Millennials the idea comes up that wine–even in 2013, in America, the largest wine drinking nation on Earth, and likely the universe–is only and/or best consumed on special occasions.

The latest example comes from The Washington Post. In “Millennials and wine, a quirky relationship” the quote that caught my eye (and ire) came from a 27-year old Millenial. He says, “Wine is transitioning to something people can enjoy on all occasions.”

By deduction if wine is transitioning to something that can be enjoyed on all occasions than it can be inferred that today it’s reserved for celebrating a raise, a new family member, or scoring four goals as a rookie in an NHL game. In other words, wine is stuck in the 80’s. Back to the Future indeed. As a kid growing up in snowy Ottawa I remember a special evening for my folks back then would start with Dad shouting, “Break out the Baby Duck!”

Haven’t we moved the needle, even just a bit?

Heck, you can buy wine today (at least in California) at CVS, Costco, and, even, 7-Eleven.

Virtually any serious restaurant carries a wine list. And most finer ones staff sommeliers.

At 2.73 gallons per resident (2012), wine consumption is at an all time high in this country.

Wine blogs. Wine videos. Wine Twitter events (#merlotme #WW…). All the rage.

100 million people in the U.S. now drink wine (that’s almost 1 out of every 3 people!).

U.S. wine sales: almost $35 billion.

That right there is a lot of special occasions.

The WP piece is just one example of many. Read anything about Millennials and you’ll denote a similar refrain: We’ve broken new ground, or at least are transitioning to a new era where wine… can be enjoyed all the time! Pop open a bottle… just because it’s Thursday! Throw caution to the wind… enjoy a glass while watching Walking Dead!

Aren’t we already doing that? Haven’t we already done that?

Millennials are an interesting generation. No question. There’s an air of ambivalence about them; they also appear more than eager to question the status-quo and try something completely different. Give them a few decades. Once they hold positions of power hopefully a much-needed sea change in attitudes towards politics and government will take hold. Wine will hopefully be the least of their worries.

DON’T MISS: Top 5 Wine Personalities of 2013 (VIDEO)

But the real generation to watch is the one right after them. These are the iPad Babies. Growing up knowing only touch. And growing up in a world where animated GIFs, 6-second videos and the RidicuList are the primary vehicles for serious news delivery. Where conversations happen 140-characters at a time (possibly 70-characters and on the sea floor by the time they’re teenagers). Where any friendship with any stranger is merely a click away. Where an NHL division known as “Metropolitan” actually exists. Yep, this is the generation to watch. I bet, prom or not, they’ll be downing buckets of Barefoot like there’s no tomorrow.

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Photo Credit: Justin Kownacki / Flickr
Clinton Stark
Clint is based in San Francisco and has produced videos for Stark Insider since 2006. Film projects recently completed include short MORADO shot in the Baja, doc THE ART OF HALL WINES in Napa, and music video WRONG'S WHAT I DO BEST at the San Francisco Art Institute. He regularly writes about Canon DSLR and filmmaking. His Broadway features have garnered praise, including SHREK UNMASKED which is the most viewed BTS video for the musical on YouTube. In addition he's worked with DreamWorks, Disney on Ice, and Cirque du Soleil, among others. Interview highlights include James Franco, Gia Coppola, Colbie Caillat, Vincent Kartheiser, Dana Carvey, and Dany Boyle. Clint is a member of ATCA and covers the SF theater scene. He also writes about Napa and wine, and Silicon Valley news and trends. More: Clint's story...