With millennials, Hennessy talks about the importance of “gateway wines,” or wines that hook young people and cause them to seek out more. “The whole point of a gateway wine is to feel empowered to try something else. Is it interesting in some way? Is the label interesting? Is there a story?” she says. Price point is also an issue: It has to be under $10.
I recently assembled a half-dozen millennials for a small blind tasting. I included some of the cutesy brands such as Cupcake and HobNob, as well as a selection of my own choice of gateway red wines, mostly $8 and under from Spain and Portugal.
When the paper bags were removed from the bottles, the labels were absolutely important. Innovative labels and bottle designs, such as the slender blue bottle and sans-serif font of Relax Rielsing (“A perfect party wine”), were given high marks. Another favorite was the cool, modern label of Grooner Gruner Veltliner, with its hip illustrations and copy that read, “Perfect for Parties . . . Great with Food . . . Picnics too!”
Still, the millennials in the group were much more impressed with the modern labels for the reds from Spain and Portugal that I had assembled. They prefererred the bright orange labels of Borsao Garnacha and Peromato Tempranillo, and the spare, black Monte Velho from Herdade de Esporao in Alentejo, Portugal, none of which overtly screamed “millennial!!!” “This is what I want a wine bottle to look like,” said a young man named Alex. “It’s aspirational. It feels mature.
“I drink wine for the same reason a 50-year-old woman does.”
In the tasting, I also included the TXT Cellars wines; they received the harshest criticism. “Ohhh noooo, I hate this so much,” said one 20-something named Kinsey. “I’m embarrassed that this is what they think people my age want.”
“This conveys, like, partying or drunkeness to me,” Alex said. “If I’m going to get drunk at a party, I’ll just drink vodka.”
Recommendations: Gateway wines for millennials
Wilson is the author of “Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits” (Ten Speed Press, 2011). Follow him on Twitter @boozecolumnist. Dave McIntyre will return next week.