Wine — Do You Grow into It?

The Gallup organization released the results of its annual survey on alcohol consumption earlier this week.  More of you drank this year than last year – the percentage of adults who consume alcohol rose from 64 to 67 percent.  This means that for the first time since 1985, more than two-thirds of adults in the U.S. claim to drink alcohol.

Gallup surveys are usually broad and general, since there’s a limit to how long you can keep people on the phone for a poll without them hanging up on you.  And the sample size (1,012 adults total, of whom 685 drink alcohol) means that the results are only accurate to ±4 percentage points.

But even when you account for the variability, there are some interesting statistics:

  • People over 55 are less likely to drink than adults under 55, but if you’re under 55 there’s no change based on age for drinking versus not drinking.  (Interestingly, Gallup asked “adults” the question about alcohol consumption, which means people age 18 and older, even though “adults” age 18-20 can’t drink legally).
  •  People with education beyond high school drink more than those with only a high-school education.
  •  The higher a person’s income, the more likely he or she is to drink alcohol.

What really interested me, though, was the data on whether people drink beer, wine, or spirits.  Gallup calls it “preference” in the results, but the question asked was actually which one they usually drink, not what they necessarily prefer.

This is a big deal, to me at least, because it’s an important distinction – someone might prefer to drink a martini, but at $12 – $14 a pop it might be out of reach, while a happy hour beer could cost only $2.

So I won’t call it preference the way Gallup does.  But the results show that younger people drink beer more often than wine or spirits, and older people drink wine more often than beer or spirits.  Also, men usually drink beer and women usually drink wine.  Fifty-four percent of men drink beer over wine and spirits, while 48 percent of women drink wine.  But 42 percent of people age 55 and older drink wine over beer, while 30 percent more often drink beer over wine.

So the younger and more male you are, the more often you’re going to drink beer over wine.  Gallup says that it’s not surprising, given that beer companies do their best to link sports and beer in customers’ minds, and that is more likely to appeal to younger men.

This wine ad was most appealing to younger men, according to Advertising Age.

But if targeted advertising can sell beer, can it sell wine too?  According to Advertising Age, the right wine ad can attract younger mens’ attention.  Take a look at this tuxedo ad for Côtes du Rhône wines that ran in New York magazine.  (Remember, you saw it here first on this very blog!)  The message is that wine works for any occasion, and was rated the highest in “stopping power” by young men in a survey of wine advertising – 84 percent of them said the ad caught their eye.  (The ad that younger women liked the most was for Layer Cake Malbec, which linked wine and homemade/handcrafted food.  That ought to make smaller, more boutique wineries very happy image-wise, even though Layer Cake wines aren’t small production.)

The ad for this wine, which linked it to homemade food, was the most popular among younger women.

What we don’t know is if the ad ultimately made a difference in sales.  The U.S. Côtes du Rhône trade association people have promised me some data, which I’ll pass on when I get it.I wonder, though, about what the Gallup poll doesn’t tell us.  There’s no information on drinking beer or wine more often based on income, but it makes sense to me that people would drink wine more often when they have more money.  That would certainly go with the idea that people drink more wine as they get older, since people generally earn more money as they get older as well.Also, it seems logical to me that people develop more of a taste for wine as they get older.   One other possibility is that wine used to be more of a mystery and so beer was an easier pick, especially before we had so many regional beers and microbrews to choose from.

So we’d like to know what you think about it.  Is wine something you grow into liking more?  You can answer by clicking on the question below, respond in a comment, or e-mail us at first dot vine at verizon dot net.  We’d love to know what you think!

If you drank beer more often than wine when you were younger, what was the reason?


This week’s recipe is a fun one that perfectly captures our exhaustion with the heat a couple of weeks ago. Seriously.  Who wants to cook?  And who wants to go out to the farmer’s market and shop for lovely seasonal things when you can feel the heat coming up from the pavement?  Cy and I did a private wine tasting last week and the hosts served a wonderful dish, a Syrian chicken salad with a creamy walnut and pepper sauce that you serve at room temperature or lightly chilled, and is wonderfully spicy.  The key ingredient is Aleppo pepper, which isn’t too hot, because most of the Aleppo pepper flakes available here don’t contain the pepper seeds (I got mine from Penzey’s).  I started looking online for a recipe and developed this one by picking the things I like best from different versions.

There are a bunch of recommendations for substitutions for Aleppo pepper, so there’s no need to get it if you can’t wait to make this dish (and you really can’t, I know it 😉 )  Mixing Hungarian sweet paprika and crushed red pepper flakes is one choice, a little smoked paprika, sweet paprika, and cayenne is another.  I also saw one suggestion of substituting ancho chili powder, which could be really good too.  The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to cook anything at all.  Get a rotisserie chicken, some reasonably good canned or boxed chicken broth, and you’re set.  You can make it a day ahead because it gets better.  You can control the spice by preparing some pepper oil to drizzle on top.  Serve it with a green salad, and a nice chilled white wine.  The spiciness of the dish calls for a little Viognier, a grape with a great floral nose that stands up well to heat.  Try the Cave la Vinsobraise Côtes du Rhône White ($12), a lighter blend of Viognier, Marsanne, and White Grenache, or bring out the bigger guns with Domaine Chaume-Arnaud La Cadène White ($20), equal parts Viognier and Marsanne, and one of the world’s best white wines.  You can’t go wrong with either one — and you’ll definitely forget about the heat!

Bon Appetit!


ps — thanks to everyone who sent Cy and me your good wishes for our wedding.  When we planned it we joked that it would be on the hottest day of the year, and it was — like 102 degrees…

Circassian Chicken

Serves 4-6

Pepper Oil

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons flavorless vegetable oil

2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper flakes (or a quarter teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes mixed with a teaspoon and a half of sweet paprika, or use about a teaspoon or so of Ancho chile powder)

Heat the oil in a small saucepan until warm, stir in the pepper, and set aside to cool completely.


1-1/2 to 2 cups packaged chicken broth

2 to 3 slices of bread, whatever you have on hand (I used whole wheat sandwich bread)

1/2 pound walnut pieces (about 2 cups or so)

1 clove of garlic, smashed and peeled

a small chunk of peeled onion (a few tablespoon’s worth), cut into a couple of pieces

1-2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper flakes (or use 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder as described above)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Soak two slices of the bread with about a half cup of the broth.  With the food processor running, drop the garlic clove through the feed tube, then the onion pieces, and process until finely chopped.  Stop the processor, add the walnuts, process until finely ground.  Add the soaked bread, an additional cup of the broth, a teaspoon of the Aleppo pepper flakes, and the salt.  Process until thoroughly mixed and smooth.  The sauce should be thick but pourable.  Add some more broth if it’s too thick.  If it’s too thin, tear up a little of the third slice of bread and add it in (you don’t have to soak it).

Let the sauce sit for a few minutes, then taste it for spice.  You can add more pepper if you want — keep in mind that you also have the pepper oil to add more spice.


1 store-bought cooked rotisserie chicken (about 3 or 4 pounds).

Shred or cut the meat from the chicken.  You can keep some pieces of skin if you want them (they add nice flavor), or discard them if you’d rather.  Put the chicken in a serving dish, pour the walnut sauce over the top, and spread it to cover the chicken.  Drizzle a third to half of the pepper oil on top, and put the rest in a small bowl to pass at the table.  Serve it at room temperature or chill it for a half hour to make it slightly cool.

This entry was posted in Cave la Vinsobraise, Côtes du Rhône Wines, Domaine Chaume-Arnaud, Food, french wine, Musings/Lectures/Rants, recipes, Tom Natan, wine delivery washington dc. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Wine — Do You Grow into It?

  1. Sue says:

    Great recipe. I like that you mixed a bunch of recipes together.

    I don’t drink beer and never have. I absolutely think you grow into wine, or maybe it’s that you grow into BETTER wine. Mateus Rose was our wine of choice in college (and high school…shhh).

    • firstvine says:

      Thanks Sue — I like beer and still drink it, but I drank a whole lot of it in college when it was a quarter a cup. Wine wasn’t anywhere to be seen, even the Mateus!

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