Welcome to wine country. Wine is America's favorite alcoholic beverage, according to a new poll from Gallup, tying beer in a statistical dead heat and easily beating liquor. Wine took the lead largely because it's being increasingly enjoyed by men, drinkers ages 30 to 49 and minorities.
That's a big change from 1992, when Gallup first asked Americans who drink whether they prefer beer, wine or liquor. Back then, 47 percent of those polled picked beer, while just 27 percent chose wine.
In the latest poll, conducted between July 7 and 10, 39 percent said wine was their first choice, 36 percent said beer and 21 percent said liquor. (The poll's margin of error is +/-4 percent.) Just last year, only 33 percent of those polled selected wine. This year's poll found that, overall, 63 percent of Americans surveyed drink alcohol.
American wine consumption has risen dramatically in recent years, showing consistent growth for more than a decade. Americans bought almost 259 million cases of wine in 2003, according to Impact Databank. But beer sales have slumped in recent years, thanks in large part to the low-carb diet craze.
"We have been seeing this trend for wine in the past few years," said Lydia Saad, a Gallup senior editor who coauthored the poll. "What was a surprise was the 6 percent jump just in the last year."
One of the biggest changes the poll found is the number of men opting for wine over beer: 25 percent of those surveyed prefer wine, compared to just 16 percent in 1992. Almost 50 percent of women polled prefer wine to other drinks. Looking at ethnic background, the poll found that 39 percent of nonwhite drinkers surveyed prefer wine. That's slightly more than white drinkers, and a 17 percent gain from 1992.
Wine also gained new converts among Americans ages 30 to 49. Of those polled, 37 percent prefer wine. Drinkers over 50 are still the most loyal wine lovers, while those under 30 have started moving toward liquor--including so-called "malternatives," the pre-blended liquor beverages--in increasing numbers.