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Americans Raise Wineglasses in Survey

From Bloomberg News

Wine moved into a statistical tie with beer as the most popular alcoholic beverage in the U.S., according to a poll released Wednesday.

About 39% of U.S. drinkers said they drank wine the most often, compared with 36% for beer and 21% for liquor, according to a Gallup poll. It’s the first time since Gallup started polling on the topic in 1992 that Americans didn’t pick beer as their favorite, Gallup said.

The beer industry has been losing market share in the U.S. to wine and spirits. Liquor’s share of U.S. alcohol spending rose to 32% in 2004 from 30.8% in 1999, while wine climbed to 14.9% from 14.3%, according to Adams Beverage Group, a Norwalk, Conn.-based research firm. Beer’s market share fell to 53% from 55%.

“It’s a confluence of factors,” said Michael Bellas, chairman and chief executive of Beverage Marketing Corp. in New York. “One is the advertising, two is the demographics as people age, and they’re doing a better marketing job on wine. Also, people are looking for more sophisticated products.”

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The HBO TV series “Sex and the City,” whose characters often consumed martinis and Cosmopolitans, helped boost the popularity of cocktails among young people, and the film “Sideways,” set near Santa Barbara, has increased wine sales, Bellas said.

“Young folks that I talked to seem to confirm that anecdotally,” said Lydia Saad, a senior editor with Gallup. “People seem to be drinking fancy cocktails and margaritas and Bacardi Breezers. We seem to be clearly picking up on a trend going on among Generation Xers.”

About 47% of all people polled in 1992 chose beer and 27% named wine. The percentage of people between 18 and 29 who prefer liquor has risen to 32% from 13% in 1992, while the amount choosing beer has fallen to 48% from 71%, Princeton, N.J.-based Gallup said.

The poll was conducted July 7 to 10 with 658 drinkers 18 and older. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.


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