Wine Drinking Habits of Men vs Women

by Gregory D. McCluney

Couple Toasting Wine In RestaurantThe Wine Drinking Habits of Men vs., Women
(P.S. It’s not what you think)
Conventional wine-wisdom says Chardonnay is the most popular wine in America,  Women drink more Chardonnay than any other varietal, Men buy most of the premium wine purchased, and Women prefer a sweet (as in White Zin) wine while men prefer a tannic red.

More or less, all of the above is false.

According to recent research documented by and summarized by Dr. Liz Thach, MW, many marketing stereotypes about gender and wine drinking simply aren’t true. Things have changed. Over 300 California wine drinkers (equal in gender) were surveyed about their habits and preferences. The results were compiled, both those where men and women agree and those where the research revealed strong differences. According to Nielson, wine consumers overall consist of 55% women and about 45% men. In the last decade, men have become more avid wine drinkers while drinking less beer.

Preferred wine varietals
Surprisingly, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot rank number one and two respectively for both men and women. But the stats change for third place where women score White Zin just ahead of Chardonnay, their number four varietal. Men prefer Pinot Noir (in third place), and then Chardonnay ranks fourth as their number one white choice. Red Zin is number five for men but comes in seventh for women after Pinot Grigio. The least popular white among both was Chenin Blanc, and the lowest-ranking red was Grenache.

When do we like to drink?
The study asked both genders to rank 22 different wine-drinking occasions. Sixteen of these came in sync for both men and women. The top four (for both) were:

1. With meals at fine dining restaurants
2. Special occasions/celebrations (non-meals)
3. With meals at a friend’s house
4. To socialize with friends

In terms of their motivations to drink wine, both men and women agreed on the top three:
1. Because wine enhances food
2. They like the taste
3. It helps them to relax

Enjoy the Difference
The study noted six areas in which there were differences in how men and women consume wine. In all, women reported lower consumption when:

1. Alone at home to relax after work
2. Alone while cooking
3. Alone at a bar
4. With meals at home alone
5. With meals at home
6. With meals for business

Dr. Thach pointed out that four of these occasions are “alone” situations, and women identify the social benefits of consuming wine more than men. Especially when alone or in a business situation, women choose not to drink or drink much less than in a social setting.

Men tend to like the history and technical aspects of wine and may use wine speak as a way to show off their wine knowledge in social or business settings.

Why pay more?
Women choose and purchase more wine than men, often choosing wine over other beverages such as beer and spirits. They choose wine over these other beverages around 10 percent more often than men. But they are tighter with the purse strings.

Men are willing to pay more for a bottle. Actually, in this survey, they averaged over $4 more for a bottle than the women in the study.

While this research had some interesting implications for those in wine marketing, for most wine consumers, its business as usual. Meanwhile, for the rest of us, pull a cork and viva la difference!

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