Nonetheless, I am considered a Millennial and as a member of the Millennial generation (those born after 1980 according to the Pew Research Center) I'm always particularly interested in what people have to say about the Millennials' experience with wine. And believe me, there's no shortage. A quick search produces too many results to sift through (How Millennials Are Changing Wine, Millennials Drive US Wine Consumption, Millennials Are Changing the Way We Drink to name a few). And as the fastest growing drinking age group, wine companies are desperate to figure out how to sell their products to Millennials. One recent article I came across in a popular industry mag, Market Watch (the inside cover of this edition "coincidentally" is an ad by a wine company whose focus is millennials and features some fine hipster-looking lads, complete with flannel shirts) , called Millennials and Wine: A New Generation Grows Up made me realize something about the relationship between Millennials and wine: they've all got it wrong.
One thing this article did get right in quoting Stephanie Gallo, vice president of marketing for E&J Gallo Winery, Millennials are "driven by a passion for quality, authenticity and discovery." Gallo is one of the fastest growing wine companies in the world right now and ranks among the top five in terms of overall volume. But there seems to be a disconnect between this understanding of Millennials and what actually makes it to the shelves of wines stores. She goes on to say, "New wine drinkers are more likely to enter the category through sweet red blends and sweeter varietals like Moscato." Gallo, after all, makes the Apothic wine brand, a cheap, sweet red that is marketed to Millennials, as well as Barefoot, another cheap, sweet wine brand.
Could it be that companies, who recognize the truth that Millennials will soon outpace the Boomers (somehow the in-between Gen Xers get skipped in this conversation) in terms of market share, are throwing everything they can at them to see what sticks. If you're not willing to invest in quality production, maybe you can get them with a clever label or catchy story. It strikes me as odd that they don't follow the lead of craft beer producers, who have clearly got it right. These guys didn't usurp the biggest beer companies in the world by using innovative packaging and a short quip to sell their product, they just made damn good beer. And Millennials started drinking it.
The truth is, there's a boatload of great wine out there. And I think Millennials are getting sold short by the marketing gimmicks that the biggest wine companies invent just to get us to drink their cheap and sweet wine.