Americans are continuing our love affair with wine as 2014 arrives, but we may love beer and spirits even more. Here’s what’s trending in drinks:
• We love wine: We drank more last year for the 19th year in a row — up 2 percent to 360 million 12-bottle cases, according to wine consultants Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates.
• We love American wine: California makes 58 percent of all the wine we drink.
• We know what we like: In wine shops and supermarkets, we bought 21 percent chardonnay, 12 percent cabernet sauvignon, 9 percent merlot, 8 percent pinot grigio or pinot gris, 6 percent moscato, 5 percent sweet red wines and 1 percent malbec, according to Nielsen, consumer sales consultants.
• We’re frugal tipplers: Forty-eight percent of all wine purchased in U.S. shops and supermarkets cost $5 to $11; only 4 percent was $20 and over, the Wall Street Journal reported.
• Wine is still playing catchup. Americans drank $99 billion worth of beer and $69 billion worth of spirits in 2012, compared with $37 billion of wine, a Gallup said.
• Craft beer is coming on strong. It rose 15 percent in 2012 while regular beer was up only one percent, the Brewers Association said. Still, regular beer outsold craft 15 bottles to one, while overall per-capita beer consumption is down from 25 gallons in 1981 to 20 gallons in 2012.
• Spirits, especially expensive ones, are gaining. Irish whiskey grew 18 percent in 2012, Gallup said. Bourbon was up 4.5 percent.
• In wine, the cliche that people talk dry but drink sweet may be true. The fastest growing varieties in 2012 were moscato, usually sweet, up 33 percent, and sweet reds, up 22 percent, Nielsen said.
• Hard cider is catching on. The U.S. market’s top 10 cider brands grew by 63 percent in 2012, Shanken says.
2011 Silver Palm Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast: hint of oak, aromas and flavors of black cherries and spice, ripe tannins; $22.
2012 La Crema Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast: aromas and flavors of ripe apples, pears and lemons, spicy finish; $23.
Angry Orchard “Green Apple” Hard Cider, Washington State: crisp and tart, with intense green apple flavors, dry finish; $8-$10 per six-pack.
2012 Tomero Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina: inky hue, aromas and flavors of black plums and black pepper; $17.
2012 Banfi “Rosa Regale” Brachetto d'Acqui: red and fizzy, soft and sweet; $20.
Contact Fred Tasker at fredtaskerwinegmail.com.