Who knew that the wine business has an age problem? Nope. Not talking about the aging of wine to improve its quality. We’re talking about statistics indicating that the only area of growth for American wine recently was among people over 60. The biggest growth area was 70- to 80-year- olds. Wow! We seniors top the chart! A popular anonymous quote is obviously right on: “Wine improves with age. The older I get, the better I like it.”
Experts say winemakers are failing to attract younger consumers, neglecting to reach out to them with enticing marketing campaigns. They suggest wine makers emphasize the environmental sustainability of wine and include nutrition and ingredient labeling to attract those concerned about health and wellness. We just like how it tastes.
Young people today have options we didn’t have like craft beers, craft cocktails, kombucha, and cannabis drinks. Kombucha?? Pop quiz. Turns out it’s an ancient food that is made into a fermented drink with tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast and has some health benefits. Yuck. No thanks.
Several states that have legalized marijuana have seen cannabis-infused mocktails, seltzers, and alcohol-free wines hitting the market, with ads promoting them as a shortcut to a healthier high. Pabst, which we know for its Blue Ribbon beer, now sells a lemon-flavored canned cannabis drink called High Seltzer, promising “a different kind of buzz.” Ah, so clever. During the pandemic, sales of marijuana beverages went up about 65 percent. Apparently, the younger generation really likes that buzz. Oh, and a healthy high. Sure.
There have been many studies about the impact of spirits on Covid. People drinking more than twice the recommended amount of alcohol reportedly have a greater risk of getting the virus. People who drink five glasses of red wine weekly have a lower risk. Drinking white wine helps a bit. Polyphenols are the reason because they can reduce blood pressure and inflammation, and potentially inhibit viral effects. Polyphenols? Okay, we looked them up. Don’t bother. Not a clue what they are.
Oh, and let’s not forget champagne and prosecco, which can’t be called champagne because it’s made in Italy. Both also reduce the chances of getting Covid. And, then some words from Napoleon Bonaparte, “In victory, you deserve champagne. In defeat you need it.”
Drinking caused a lot of deaths during the pandemic. Deaths jumped 26 percent between 2019 and 2020. The chief executive officer of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers described the jump in deaths this way: “What’s a word bigger than crisis?” The reasons? Reportedly stress and boredom. Some countries actually prohibited the sale of alcohol during the pandemic to free up beds for Covid patients. When the ban was lifted in South Africa, one woman on her way to buy a cold beer said she felt like she had just won a million bucks.
Sommeliers recommend we drink those red wines with meats and white wines with fish or chicken. Love a bacon cheeseburger? Drink a Zinfandel or Merlot. Junk food is best paired with a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio. These three wines reportedly match up well with the salt flavoring peanuts, pretzels, and potato chips. If you’re stuffing your mouth with a luxurious dark chocolate, choose a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Malbec. Heaven! An old favorite comedian, George Carlin, once asked, “What wine goes with Capt’n Crunch?” Cereal? Hmmm. Not sure.
If we’re drinking lots of wine, maybe we should become more familiar with some descriptive terminology. That can be challenging! A “complex” wine means that the flavor changes from the moment you taste it to the moment you swallow it. The more aromas, flavors, and nuances you can decipher, the more complex the wine is. Okay. “Elegant” describes understated wines with higher acidity and more “restrained” characteristics. They are the opposite of big, bold and fruity wines. Whatever. “Zesty” is typically used when talking about wines with crisper qualities— whatever crisper tastes like. Oh, but “creamy” is a popular description for white and sparkling wines fermented or aged in oak. We get that one. Smooth!
So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? Drink wine and feel smug about it! Keep that record in our corner. But, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo the hard stuff. Not giving up our scotch and vodka! A warning: don’t describe wines as “flabby,” which means the wine has no acidity. Could remind your listeners about the calories they are chugging! And, finally, an observation from actress Joan Collins: “Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.” She is now 89.