Wine age groups

Millennials (21-34 year olds) may get wine sales hype, but Boomers (47-64 year olds) own wine market share.

According to Silicon Valley Bank blogger Rob McMillian, Boomers account for more than 40 percent of U.S. wine sales. Millennials 12 percent. Gen Xers (35-46 year olds) under 30 percent. Matures (65-plus) around 15 percent.

The stats create challenges and opportunities for wine marketers.

Boomers may rule cash register roost now, but their capacity declines—they are best able to afford best stuff, but they no longer drink as much. Blame that on fear encountered when you discover you are not bullet proof and may not live forever.

Wine marketers bank on lower alcohol offerings for these older folks, shifting from big, blowzy bombs that bewitched Boomers a decade ago. Wine as a “heart healthy” food is the Next Big Thing.

Millennials want to buy quality wines and have inclination to drink more often (reality checks cometh later), but they do not yet have resources to pay for big-buck bottles.

Strategy: vino vendors vie to deliver tasty affordables, grooming Millennials for the time their Boomer boss retires and their promotion kicks in. At play in fields of Silver Oaks and Jordans lies ahead.

Gen Xers slog along, forever in the shadow of the Boomer population bolus, now with hip Millennials nipping at their heels. Yikes, this live long thing isn’t so easy.

Meanwhile, Matures smile indulgently as they sip Chateau Montelena cellared 20 years earlier, back in the day when they were the spear tip of the wine sip revolution and best bottles cost less than a Benjamin.

Grasshopper: see, swirl, smell, sip, savor. That’s why you drink wine at any age.

Tasting notes:

• Oyster Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012. Light body, fresh grass, lemon-grapefruit notes; clean; good example of NZ commercial sauv blanc. $11

• McKinley Springs Horsepower Proprietary Red Blend 2009. Five grapes—not big depth, but deeply delicious; blackberry, cherry, earth, oak; smooth ride, soft tannins; broad appeal, great value. $16

• Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. Tight on release, opening up now; herbs, blackberry; smooth, elegant; evolves in glass. $50

Last round: The only time I ever said no to wine was when I misunderstood the question.