Millennial drinking trends are shifting to the grape.
It’s true—Generation Y is drinking more wine than ever. But there are some factors to consider when marketing millennial-friendly bottles on your list.
“We find that our younger audience is adventurous in the wine department,” says Kellie Holmes, general manager of Basic Kitchen in Charleston, S.C. “They aren’t necessarily tied to one varietal or region and are open to trying the sustainable, funky, small production wines that inspire us daily.”
Not only are millennials breaking away from tradition in the styles they drink, but also in how they drink it.
“The first thing to ask is what beverages are most un-wine like,” says Arthur Hon, beverage manager at Momofuku Ko in New York. “Natural wines almost drink like beer and cider. It sounds very idealistic, very non-traditional, very local and very environmentally friendly.”
Canned wines are also trending upward. “There are a lot of super cool and quite legit canned wines right now,” he continues. “It’s almost like thinking about wine in a different way. Millennials aren’t drinking anything that reminds them of their parents.”
Budget is another factor to consider when targeting this demographic. “It really varies, depending on the occasion and who they are dining with,” explains Holmes, “however, we are seeing that the younger crowd tends to find the value in this price point.”
Exposing guests to new wine experiences can be as easy as creating tasting events at the restaurant, but operators must tailor these activations to the millennial audience.
“At Basic Kitchen, we choose to highlight our wine selections by partnering with local distributors or specific producers and hosting laid-back wine dinners,” says Holmes. “They aren’t your traditional, coursed-out, fancy affairs. Our chef creates a few dishes to pair with the wines, but we like to keep it super casual to show guests that wine doesn’t have to be exclusive or intimidating.”
So how should wine directors and sommeliers manage the millennial market?
“I’m starting to force myself to think differently and to learn, communicate and engage in a different way,” says Hon. “Time will move forward; this will become the next generation of heavy wine drinkers. It’s about adapting, as opposed to changing them. It’s about moving with the times, as opposed to staying stagnant.”
“Millennials aren’t drinking anything that reminds them of their parents.”
- Arthur Hon, Beverage Manager at Momofuku Ko, NY