Younger generation of wine drinkers

Published On: Jun 26 2013 06:52:33 AM EDT   Updated On: Jun 26 2013 06:20:00 AM EDT

The battle is on for the young wine drinkers and Chris Hammond, co-founder of Rock 'n Roll Wine, is on the front lines.  He's organizing events to draw in the 21 to 29-year-old crowd.

"The events lack pretention.  They don’t make you feel intimidated by a lot of adjectives or what you should like, or what a magazine says you should like," he said.

The stakes are high.  Vintners are counting on the potential 70 million Millennials to keep their $30 billion businesses growing.

John Gillespie, President of the Wine Market Council, is seeing more wineries going after the younger generation, integrating social media to their marketing menus.

"To them, wine is the new black. It goes with everything and it travels very well. We should take note of the fact that wine drinkers are in very big numbers on Facebook, on Twitter. There are very high numbers of users of Yelp," he said.

There are even fun new apps to help newbies decide what to serve with their wine.  And don't be surprised to see it served in new settings, too, from concerts to sporting events.

"Wine is being consumed on many more casual everyday occasions than ever before,” said Gillespie.

Even the labels, with unusual names, are appealing.  Sociology professor Dr. David Halle says labels aside, accessibility and lower price points, along with gender neutral appeal is turning wine into the new party drink of choice amongst younger drinkers.  But there's concern, too, for younger drinkers. 

"Wine is now as beer was amongst young people, a drink that you serve in large quantities where there is an aim at the party to get drunk," said Halle.

Halle says part of that is due to new marketing.

"There is no longer any branding of wine that it’s a chic drink that you sip at.  That’s gone," he added.

Halle points out plenty of people are still looking to sample wine and not get inebriated.  And that's a point Hammond reiterates.

"I don’t think that people come to our events with the intent of getting tipsy. I think they know they will get a nice little buzz, but I think wine is unique in that it breeds this social aspect where everybody becomes friends,” said Hammond.

Halle sees this trend as another sign of aging and he's not just talking about the wine.

"This thing has gone on during the history of fashion and the history of food; the younger generation adopting the older generations is inevitable," he said.

The growing popularity of wine among a younger crowd is catching on with celebrities, like Fergie, Madonna and Brad Pitt, who now have their own labels.