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For the Love of Wine

01/04/2016 04:45AM ● By Family Features
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Whether it’s relaxing at home, dining out at a restaurant or celebrating with friends and family, Americans are enjoying wine at a wider variety of occasions than ever before. In fact, 85 percent of frequent wine drinkers now believe that wine is equally appropriate for casual and formal settings alike.

Today’s attitudes and behaviors toward wine drinking were recently captured in the second Gallo Consumer Wine Trends Survey, commissioned by E. & J. Gallo Winery. The survey of 1,000 frequent wine drinkers found that 82 percent enjoy between one and five glasses per week, which they enjoy at a wide range of occasions.

“We are always glad to see Americans’ love of wine expand each year as they experiment with flavors, varietals and packaging formats,” said Stephanie Gallo, third generation family member and vice president of marketing at E. & J. Gallo Winery. “For more than 80 years, Gallo has strived for excellence and will continue its family tradition of crafting innovative wines that cater to Americans’ evolving wine preferences.”

A more casual approach to wine suggests that shoppers are more likely to try new wines across a range of prices. In fact, more than one-third of survey respondents classified themselves as a “wine adventurer,” while only 3 percent of those surveyed self-identified as “wine snobs.”

Exploring and experimenting
More sipping occasions means more opportunities to try new wines. The top factors that inspire a frequent wine drinker to try something new are recommendations from friends, family members and coworkers. Additionally, 86 percent of wine drinkers would be encouraged by a server, bartender or sommelier recommendation, followed closely by a recommendation from a wine store employee.

Not surprisingly, millennials are more influenced by the digital world than older generations. Survey data shows that millennials are more likely to be encouraged to try a new wine if it is featured prominently and positively in the media or if it is recommended on social media.

Selecting your sips
The occasion itself still influences the wine choice for many. While wine drinkers identified Chardonnay as the most popular choice for casual get-togethers, Cabernet Sauvignon was most often the front-runner for formal environments.

At the same time, sparkling wines are breaking out of formal occasions and becoming more popular for everyday moments. Interest in Rosé is also expanding beyond the peak summer months of June, July and August as more wine drinkers reach for blush wines in April and September.

However, looks still matter in the wine aisle. Millennials are four times more likely than baby boomers to select a bottle of wine based on its label, frequently looking for personality and originality. Baby Boomers, by contrast, look for region of origin and tasting notes on the label.

Thinking inside the box
Mirroring the changes in wine drinkers’ shopping habits, the wine industry is thinking “inside the box” these days. Boxed wine has evolved considerably in the minds of consumers, thanks in large part to its convenience. The extended freshness of boxed wine allows wine drinkers to enjoy it at their own pace and the box’s portability allows for easy transport to all types of occasions. In fact, 1 in 4 surveyed agree that boxed wine is best for large social gatherings and is becoming higher quality.

Wine in a can is a relatively new concept that more than one-fourth of frequent wine drinkers expressed interest in trying – particularly for outdoor excursions. Among fans of alternative packaging, outdoor events remained the primary occasion for the use of these products, which also include mini bottles and tetra packs.

“The increase in popularity of these new packaging options is undeniably making wine more portable, practical and possible to enjoy anywhere,” Gallo said. “A single-serve package, in particular, offers a convenient option for those who reluctantly grab a beer simply because it is easier.”

Overcoming wine fears
As wine culture becomes more approachable, common fears among wine drinkers are less prevalent. The survey found that fears, such as mispronouncing a wine’s name or being judged for wine choices, are still on the minds of some wine drinkers, but those who enjoy it regularly are not dramatically affected by these concerns.

“As an industry, we must continue working to remove these barriers in order to nurture wine’s expansion into everyday occasions,” Gallo said. “By exploring the more emotional implications of wine culture and sharing these findings broadly, we hope to welcome more people into wine.”

Pairings for every occasion
When it comes to food and wine pairings, the proper match can exponentially improve the eating experience – no matter what the occasion. The key is to choose wines and foods that complement each other in their components, richness and textures. To help get you started, Gallo Family Vineyards recommends the following pairings:

  • Fresh fish: Complement garlic butter baked salmon or another favorite fish with a glass of Chardonnay for its rich fruit flavor and lush texture, or Sauvignon Blanc for a more crisp finish.
  • Barbecue: Pair grilled items, such as shish kabobs, burgers or corn on the cob, with a Riesling for its vivid and sweet flavors.
  • Red meat: Enhance the robust taste of roast beef or grilled steak with Cabernet Sauvignon for its black fruit and spice notes.
  • Chicken: Serving an oven-roasted chicken with medium-bodied Pinot Noir will bring subtle flavors of cherry and sweet fruit.
  • Dessert: Complement a slice of cheesecake, chocolate covered strawberry or chocolate chip cookie with Moscato. The light-bodied, refreshing flavors of peach, honey and ripe citrus are a perfect match.
  • Pretty much anything: Rosé is often underappreciated when it comes to food pairings. From spicy Mexican to chicken salad, pecorino cheese and peach cobbler, it is an excellent option for dishes year-round.

To learn more about the evolving wine culture, visit

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (group of people)

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