Wine consumption on the rise

Six out of 10 Americans drink alcohol, a percentage the Gallup organization says has been steady for many years.

What we drink, however, is changing.

To chagrin of brewers and rhapsodic joy of vintners, there is a clear trend toward wine.

In 1992, Gallup asked Americans what they drank most often. Beer led with 47 percent, followed by wine at 27 percent, and liquor at 21 percent.

Dramatically different story 21 years later. Beer still leads with 36 percent, but that is down 11 points. Wine now is in virtual tie with beer at 35 percent, up eight points. Liquor stays about the same at 23 percent.

To the foaming horror of Big Beer, the biggest change is among young adults. In 1992, some 71 percent of young adults reported they drank beer most often; today only 41 percent give that answer, a whopping 30 point decline that bodes great for grapes and harbors a brewing hassle for hops.

Gender has always been a divide. In the 1992 survey, 64 percent of men preferred beer, 15 percent wine and 16 percent liquor. Numbers were sharply different for women: 29 percent favored beer, 43 percent wine, and 25 percent liquor.

Fast forward to 2013. Men still prefer beer, but preference has dropped by 11 points to 53 percent, and wine increased five points to 20 percent. The numbers almost exactly reverse for women: 20 percent prefer beer, 52 percent wine.

Such number-dense prose does not leave much room for the levity and word play typical of this column, but it does reveal why the newspaper devotes weekly space to the subject of wine.

Tasting notes:

• The Original Darkhorse Big Red Blend NV. Syrah, zin, malbec, merlot; full mouth, smooth, jammy, black cherry, dark fruit, smoky oak, chocolate; nice value winner. $9

• Whiplash Chardonnay 2011. Nicely clean, crisp; green apples, citrus; smooth with good acidity; delicious; every-day, go-to food complement. $11

• Castelfeder Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio 2011. Lemon, lime, golden apple; clean, fresh, good acidity, slightly tart; will change your mind about pinot grigio; superb value. $14

Last round: If at first you don’t succeed, try drinking wine while you do it. You’ll be amazed at how much less you care about failing.