Expert insights on attracting younger wine enthusiasts

Strategies to engage younger consumers in the wine world


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As the wine industry grapples with the challenge of appealing to younger consumers, particularly Millennials and Generation Z, a crucial question arises: how can wine professionals attract these potential wine enthusiasts? In a bid to unravel this enigma, insights from Wine Spectator were gathered from 10 young wine experts across the United States, revealing a diverse range of strategies and personal approaches.

Summer Knoop, owner and wine director at Cafe Mamo in Grand Rapids, Michigan, emphasizes the importance of creating an unpretentious atmosphere and offering diverse price ranges to accommodate different budgets. This approach aims to demystify the wine experience, making it more accessible to a younger audience who might be intimidated by the perceived sophistication and cost of wine culture.

Hugo Bensimon of Grill 23 in Boston suggests that the wine industry could benefit from modernizing label designs. He points out the success of "natural" wines, which often attract younger consumers through contemporary and appealing label art. This strategy could be a key driver in making classic wines more relatable and attractive to a younger demographic.

Jacqueline Pirolo from Macchialina in Miami Beach, Florida, champions the idea of including more detailed information on wine bottles, possibly through QR codes. This tech-savvy approach aligns with the preferences of a generation that is accustomed to having information readily available at their fingertips.

Christopher Gaither, co-owner of Ungrafted in San Francisco, highlights the lack of diversity in the wine industry. He suggests that making efforts to appeal to various ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic groups can significantly broaden the industry's appeal. This strategy involves creating safe, welcoming spaces where wine can be enjoyed without fear of judgment or intimidation.

Camille Lindsley of HAGS in New York City observes that younger wine drinkers are drawn to wines with a story, especially those addressing issues like climate change and labor movements. This trend suggests that wineries that engage in sustainable practices and support social causes could have a stronger appeal to younger consumers.

Sarina Garibović, founder of sommelier service Ženska Glava in Minneapolis, notes the trend among young consumers to explore new wine producers, styles, and regions. She suggests that wine professionals can leverage this open-mindedness by educating these consumers and expanding their palates.

Brady Brown of Mattos Hospitality, including Estela and Altro Paradiso, recommends offering a diverse wine list that includes both established and emerging regions at various price points. This approach allows younger consumers to experiment without feeling financially pressured.

Tyler Blair of Khâluna in Minneapolis emphasizes the importance of crafting experiences rather than focusing solely on the product. Young consumers seek memorable and discussable experiences, suggesting that wine offerings should be intriguing yet approachable.

Bill Cox of Counter- in Charlotte, North Carolina, advocates for presenting wine as an integral part of the dining experience. By pairing wines with food creatively, it can enhance the overall dining experience and make wine more approachable for all age groups.

Maddy Jimerson of Casa Tua in Aspen points out that many young drinkers find wine intimidating. To counter this, she suggests focusing on the stories behind the wine, making it more relatable and approachable. Jimerson is working on short films featuring Italy's lesser-known wine regions to bring these stories to life.

These insights from young wine professionals across the United States suggest a multifaceted approach to attracting younger consumers to the wine industry. By focusing on accessibility, diversity, contemporary issues, and storytelling, the wine industry can broaden its appeal and cultivate a new generation of wine enthusiasts.

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