Tag Archives: wine

Prohibition and today’s wine consumption

It’s been nearly 80 years since prohibition was lifted in the United States. For some that’s four generations of family that have been ‘removed’ from that situation. With each generation that arrives, they drink alcohol more. Hopefully, more responsibly too.

It hit me yesterday (again) when I was sitting next to someone who said to me, “I don’t drink alcohol”. It wasn’t out of the blue, we were talking about the wine industry. There was some explanation about how they had too much (of everything) during the 60’s. Okay, I guess I get that. And there, of course, is a number of people who can’t handle drinking alcohol and struggle with that daily. I get that too. I believe that is a small portion of the general public.

There is a fair portion (about 32%) of the population that chooses not to drink for whatever reason. I would argue that some of that stems back to prohibition. Like it or not, to a certain extent we model out parent’s behavior. Later in life (college, early-career, etc…) we make more and more choices based on our experience, but our parent’s ideas and models are still in the back of our mind. If they didn’t drink, there’s a good chance that we won’t. So, generations later the parents that didn’t drink because it was illegal have kids and grand-kids that still aren’t drinking.

This continues to be bad for the wine industry. Unlike some other alcohols, wine takes years and years to produce. Prohibition was extremely detrimental to vineyards and wineries. It wasn’t until about 30 years after the 21st amendment that the wine industry in the United States started to revive itself. But by that point the public’s taste in alcohol skewed towards beer and hard liquor which were much easier to produce, not to mention bootleg during prohibition.

The good news is wine consumption is on the rise. And more and more of that is happening in relation to food consumption. Wine is an almost daily resident at our dinner table. My kids will grow up knowing that wine with food in moderation is a great thing. And can even lead to a healthier life. Likely, they will drink wine at their dinner tables someday too. It helps that I’m in the wine business.

But it’s not just that we drink wine. I hope we adopt the more European lifestyle in that wine and food are meant to be respected and together they make life more enjoyable. But everything in moderation – something that Americans have issues with. I also think that because it was taken away from us for over 13 years, we just don’t do moderation very well. We also learned as kids that something that was taken away from us was even more desirable. Maybe we’re afraid that our alcohol will be removed from society again.

In 2009, the United States reported 9 liters of wine consumption per capita, according to the Wine Institute. 9 liters is 12 bottles of wine. That’s one bottle of wine per month, per person. Not very much. That also means that those that drink wine on a regular basis are drinking way more than that to make up for the 32% of the public that doesn’t drink at all. I know we drink much more that 1 bottle per month. We will usually consume 2-4 bottles per week. But it’s also the main alcohol in our household. I don’t drink much beer, but I do enjoy a good whiskey – just not nearly as often as wine.

So, what does all this mean? Well, with each generation we will probably see wine consumption increase in the U.S. I think we’re seeing that already just based on the young(er) consumers that visit the tasting rooms I’ve been working in. I also think that the wine industry (post prohibition) is still young. That’s great news because we have nowhere to go but up, right? I’m a dreamer at heart and one of my dreams is seeing more bottles of wine on American’s dinner tables more often.


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I’m a wine snob!

There. I said it.

But I’m not a wine snob in the way you probably think that statement is usually said or interpreted.

All of these statements are true:

**I like good wine.

**I usually bring my own bottles of wine to restaurants because I’m afraid of what they might have on the list.

**I dread going to weddings because of the wines they might be pouring. (Yes, I know how this sounds. The wedding is about the people getting married, not the wine, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have good wine!).

**I swirl, sip, slurp and swish my wine. It enhances my experience. Seriously. You should try it.

But all of these statements are true too:

**I look forward to trying new wines from all areas – I really am open to trying anything.

**I’ve very much enjoyed looking for inexpensive wines with great flavor this year.

**Bad wines I’ve encountered in the past few years have been few and far between.

**Really, really good wines I’ve tried in the past few years have also been few and far between.


I think those last two statements really sum it all up for me. There is a lot of wine floating around in that in middle area. It’s not “bad” and it’s not “OMG, this is the best wine I’ve ever had!”. It’s where I spend most of my wine drinking time. Partly because I’m on a wine budget, but mostly because if you drink “OMG wine” everyday I think you lose perspective.

It takes a bad wine to know a good one. Do you know what I mean? I was e-mailing with a friend yesterday and this person was having a bad week. And I said, “You can’t have a good week, if you don’t know what a bad week is”. Maybe that wasn’t what this person wanted to hear, but it’s very true. The same goes for wine. If days, weeks or wine was like The Truman Show, then I’d be making wine in my garage and selling it to you right here. You wouldn’t care, because it’s all good juice, right?

Here’s the thing: A really serious wine snob wouldn’t be open to trying all types of wines. A wine snob would rather sit back and read what all the wine magazines, publications and critics have to say before even thinking about purchasing a wine. A wine snob would pick a bottle off the restaurant wine list based on price alone. If it’s expensive, it must be good. A wine snob wouldn’t be caught dead drinking wine out of a jug (premium jug or not)….

Yes, I like good wine. Yes, I like very good wine. No, I don’t like bad wine. But I’ll keep trying all wines that find their way to my snobby mouth so I can keep some well needed perspective.


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