A couple weeks ago Joe Roberts (1WineDude) queried on Twitter “Curious: I keep hearing about a low alcohol wine trend in the US, but does any consumer data exist to back it up?” Tyler Thomas (winemaker for Donelan Wines) replied on Twitter with a link to a page of statistics compiled by Wine Institute and Gomberg, Fredrickson.
The data show US wine consumption per capita from 1940 through 2010, along with figures for total gallons consumed and gallons consumed of “table wine” (defined as wines under 14% alcohol by volume).
I pulled these figures into a spreadsheet and subtracted the table wine gallons from the total wine gallons, to calculate the gallons of wine consumed that is (by definition) greater than 14% ABV. Then I expressed this as a fraction of the total wine consumed, and graphed it: No question that today we are drinking wines with lower alcohol than we were in 1948. Six decades ago more of the wine Americans drank was fortified, compared to what we drink today; the fraction of wine consumed qualifying as “table wine” (under 14% ABV) exploded after 1968. There is definitely a trend to lower alcohol from 1968 through 2000.
What’s interesting is that the fraction of wine consumed in the US that is over 14% ABV has been increasing steadily over the last decade. So it’s safe to say that if there is some trend to lower alcohol, consumers in general don’t know about it yet. (Click here to see the complete spreadsheet.)