For the third straight year, Americans are expected to drink more red wine than white, thanks to a projected 3 percent increase in red wine consumption in 2008, to 121 million cases, an all-time high according to the recently-released The U.S. Wine Market: Impact Databank Review and Forecast, 2008 edition. White wine consumption is also expected to grow this year, but by a slightly slower 2 percent rate to 118 million cases, while rosé and blush wine consumption is projected to decline 3 percent.
Before 2006, red wine had not outsold white since 1976. A white wine cocktail boom emerged back then, fueling the dominance of white wines until wine coolers had their heyday in the mid-'80s. When cooler sales slowed, the blush wine phenomenon began, driven by white Zinfandel, but sales of red and white wines also began to grow. Increases in the number of working women and the number of legal-age drinkers were responsible for much of that growth. Members of the "echo boomer" generation began reaching legal drinking age in the mid-1990s, adding about 60 million potential new wine drinkers, according to the report. By the end of this decade, those consumers will be in their 30s, the prime target for wine marketers.
Most of red wine's 2008 growth is projected to come from sales of variety-labeled brands, both domestic and imported, particularly Pinot Noir, which is expected to advance 12 percent, to 9 million cases. Cabernet Sauvignon is also projected to perform well, according to Impact Databank, which is owned by M. Shanken Communications, the parent company of Wine Spectator. The recent success of red wines can be attributed to the American consumer's increasingly sophisticated palate, expanding knowledge of wine and willingness to experiment with a wider variety of wine styles. Drinking red wine has also been linked favorably in numerous medical studies to various health benefits, such as a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
Among white wines, Chardonnay continues to lead the pack, except when it comes to imports, where it was once again surpassed by Pinot Grigio. Total Chardonnay consumption is projected to grow 2 percent in 2008 to a whopping 63 million cases, but outpaced by Pinot Grigio's expected 7 percent gain to 18 million cases. Meanwhile, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling imports will continue to surge at double-digit rates in the near term. The lone bright spot for blush wines this year is white Merlot, which is expected to advance by a modest 3 percent, while the much larger white Zinfandel category is projected to decline by 2 percent. Some imported rosés have started to come on strong, but from a very small base.
The annual U.S. Wine Market report analyzes the latest trends in the wine industry. With more than 500 tables, graphs and maps, the expanded 2008 edition consists of comprehensive charts of varietal and generic wine trends by color, origin and type, the first look at brand and segment estimates for 2008, projections by origin and category through 2015, and exclusive industry financial analysis. The report also provides volume data over 500 brands since 1980, rankings of the top 100 wines by volume and retail sales, the top 25 marketers, the 50 most profitable brands and much, much more.
For more information about the U.S. Wine Market, which is also available on CD, and other Impact Databank reports on distilled spirits, beer and the global drinks market, contact Elisa Trapani at M. Shanken Communications, 387 Park Avenue South, New York, N.Y. 10016 by phone at (212) 684-4224, ext. 339; by fax at (212) 779-3366; or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. A comprehensive table of contents and a detailed listing of tables and charts is available.
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