[ Editor’s note: following is a guest post from the 1WD intern: the young, unpaid Shelby Vittek. While Shelby may be young, she’s got better creds than a lot of would-be wine media folks out there: she’s been writing about wine for the millennial set for the better part of a year, is already working on her first book (a guide to wine for college students), and has been published in the Washington Post's travel section. Her current writing gig is for the newly re-launched TableMatters.com. To give Shelby a break from having to catalog the small ocean of samples in my basement, we’re going to let her flex her writing muscles with guest posts centering on how young wine buyers view the wine world. We often talk about the Millennial wine buying generation here on 1WD, but this is a chance for you to get the scoop on Millennial wine habits directly from the source. You can follow Shelby on twitter at @BigBoldReds. Let us know what you think (but keep things civil, you opinionated b*stards!). Enjoy! ]
My usual cutoff price for a bottle of wine is ten dollars.
My problem isn’t that I don’t enjoy drinking higher-end wines, ones that are older or more intriguing – it’s just that frankly, I can’t afford them.
I’m part of the younger generation of wine-curious Millennials – the ones who have entered into the world of legal wine-buying and consumption age in the past few years. We are supposedly the generation of wine drinkers believed to be the almighty saviors of the wine industry. But finding an interesting, relatively delicious bottle of wine that doesn’t give me anxiety when I think about making rent at the end of the month is a never-ending challenge.
While I don’t anticipate these wines will blow me away the same way an older Barolo or an aged Riesling does, I want to be able to take pleasure in a glass alone after work (or rather, hours of organizing the mass amounts of wine samples in Joe’s basement). I want to share a bottle with friends without being embarrassed or horrified by the quality of my selection. (I have been deemed the know-it-all-wine-friend, after all.) And when I go home to visit my mother, I want to bring a bottle with me that impresses both her and her more sophisticated palate, without my budget-savvy ways being given away.
You may be shaking your head, or rolling your eyes at how frugal I am with my wine purchases. Maybe you think I’m crazy for expecting a ten-dollar bill to be traded for a beautifully perfumed wine that also delivers rich flavors. But I assure you, I am not insane, and I am definitely not alone. Many other younger Millennials are in the same boat as I am…
Twenty-five percent of Millennials – aged 18 to 34 – reported not having enough money to cover their basic needs in a survey conducted by WSL Strategic Retail earlier this year. Only 17 percent of adults ages 35-54 and 13 percent of people 55 and older reported the same status.
The Millennial generation is posed with a huge financial hurdle after being impacted by the recent recession, which has left us struggling to find jobs and settle the debt we owe in student loans. Many of my friends work several part-time jobs while trying to finish their degrees and eat ramen far too many nights a week than should ever be medically allowed. So where, exactly, are we supposed to find the cash to fork over for “entry level” wines priced $30 and above? What is our future in the wine industry if we can’t afford to explore beyond cheaper bottles?
In an article published this year in the Washington Post about Millennial wine-buyers, Jason Wilson (also my editor at TableMatters.com) confirms my point above: “Price point is also an issue: It has to be under $10.”See, maybe I’m not that crazy after all.
Now don’t be too quick to jump to any conclusions about our levels of knowledge or interest in wine. Just because we aren’t buying any bottles priced higher than $10 doesn’t mean we don’t know any better and it doesn’t mean we’re all drinking crap. It’s just that we can’t spend a bunch of money to discover everything the great world of wine has to offer.
Millennials aren’t just dabbling in the mass market of Yellowtail, Barefoot or Cupcake wines.We’re drinking reds from Portugal, New World Chilean whites, bubbly wines like Prosecco and Cava, Shiraz from Australia and fruity, high-alcohol Spanish Garnacha – all very enjoyable wines that can widely be found for $10 or less.
For the past year I have been on my own personal mission to find the best-valued wines in the average Millennial’s price range to actually learn something from and of course, enjoy drinking. Surprise, surprise – it ispossible!
The one piece of advice I give to every one: Go study abroad in a wine shop. Seek out lesser known regions and funky or obscure grape varieties. That’s where you will find quality bargains. By venturing to aisles of less famed regions like Toro, Spain or Southwest France or Soave in the Veneto, it’s not difficult to find quality wines that aren’t associated with a hefty price tag. It also helps to be on the look out for obscure varieties.
It’s now time to rethink what you believe about Millennials, especially if you’re a producer from a lesser-known region with an appealing bargain wine. You may be missing a golden opportunity to sell your wines to a new generation far more curious and experimental than our parents. What may be looked over by a Baby Boomer is exactly the kind of wine a Millennial seeks out.
We have absolutely no fear of trying an unknown producer or a funky-sounding grape from an unheard-of place – but how do we know you exist? A market for your wines only exists if you get your name and wines out there for Millennials (and our wallets) to fall head over heels in love with and keep us coming back to the wine shop for another fix.
To those wineries who already offer a REAL entry level wine (priced $10 or less), which you put as much care into growing and making as you do your more elaborate (read: pricier) wines: We young Millennials thank you.It is because of you that we can continue to discover and explore our love for wine and still keep our landlords happy and electricity flowing.
And to those producers whose wines we may currently pass up in the wine shop because they are too expensive, we have no beef with you. But please be patient with us. All the time and money you are investing in social-media marketing campaigns now won’t benefit your sales…just yet. Our generation still has a few more years of growing up and learning to do before we can make a profit and ultimately graduate from our $10 limit.