The survey, conducted July 10-14, found that among Americans who say they drink alcohol occasionally, 36 percent say they prefer beer, 35 percent prefer wine and 23 percent prefer hard liquor. Beer edged out wine by a mere 1 percent.
For years producers of beer and hard spirits have been fighting an increasingly difficult battle to win the hearts and palates of an ever expanding wine-centric populace.
It is noteworthy that in the early 1990s, 71 percent of adults under the age of 30 said beer was their alcoholic beverage of choice. That percentage has dropped sharply to 41 percent.
Adults in the under-30 age group have turned to wine and liquor. While 41 percent still say beer is their beverage of choice, 24 percent now prefer wine and 28 percent prefer liquor.
In the 30-49 age group, the drop in the percentage of those preferring beer has not declined quite as precipitously. With the old folks — those 50 and older — wine continues to be the top alcoholic beverage of choice.
The Gallup study also provided data on race- and gender-drinking preferences. Since the ’90s, both whites and nonwhites have become less likely to choose beer as their favorite alcoholic drink, but the shift away from beer has been greater among the nonwhite population.
The study found a major divide among genders going back to the first time the question was asked in 1992. Among male consumers of alcohol, 53 percent say beer is their beverage of choice while 20 percent prefer wine. The reverse is true among females — 52 percent prefer wine compared to 20 percent who prefer beer.
According to Gallup, the study proves the percentage of Americans who drink alcohol has held fairly steady — in the 60 percent range — since 1939, but U.S. drinkers’ preferences have shifted.
Drinkers are now as likely to say they prefer wine as beer. Most key subgroups have shifted away from beer and this shift is most pronounced among younger Americans and minorities.
America now consumes more wine by volume than any other country. The recession placed many reasonably priced wines from top producers in the hands of consumers, giving many the opportunity to experience premium wines for the first time. These reasonably priced wines, no doubt, played a role in the number of Americans who now say they prefer wine over beer.
Try the following surprisingly good value wines recommended by one who falls in the demographic of females over 50 who prefer to drink wine:
MM MoscaMango. $14 range at both Tyson Fine Wines and Things in Golden Springs and the Wine Cellar on Quintard in Anniston. An Italian fizzy, low-alcohol wine, 6.5 by volume, made from moscato and fresh mango pulp. A runaway summer hit with female wine drinkers.
Mile Marker 71 Pinot Gris 2012. $13.75 at Tyson’s. This wine takes its name from its source situated near mile marker 71 on Highway 99 in the heart of the Williamite Valley in Oregon. Lovely summer-in-your-mouth wine. Pear, peach and honey flavors blend into a smooth harmonious whole lightly laced with balancing acidity. Nice finish. Versatile. Great sip for lighter fare.
Goose Bump Velvety Red 2010. $10.50 at Tyson’s. The atypical name and label belies its Sicilian origin. Nero d’ Avola makes up the majority of this blend with a bit of syrah and merlot in the mix.
Tasty. Slight sweetness on the approach. Balanced and full bodied. Very zinfandel like. Great pizza, burger and barbecue wine.
Email Pat Kettles at email@example.com