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Beer is the drink of choice among Americans, with wine moving up in the ranks

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Mary Ellen Shoup

By Mary Ellen Shoup+

03-Feb-2017
Last updated on 15-Feb-2017 at 23:15 GMT2017-02-15T23:15:52Z

Beer still ranks as the number one beverage of choice among US consumers, but wine become increasingly popular. ©iStock/monkeybusinessimages
Beer still ranks as the number one beverage of choice among US consumers, but wine become increasingly popular. ©iStock/monkeybusinessimages

Beer has edged out wine as US adults’ (21 years and older) drink of choice, according to a survey by The Harris Poll that included responses from 2,148 people in late January 2017.

"While many consumers will increasingly drink across all three major adult beverage categories [beer, wine, liquor/spirits], they still have their preferred drink type,” Danny Brager, SVP of Nielsen’s beverage alcohol practice, said.

Nearly four in 10 (38%) of US adults, who drink several times a year or more, chose beer as their “go-to” alcoholic beverage followed by wine at 31%, and spirits/liquor at 28%. But the numbers have not always been like this.

The Harris Poll found that most regular drinkers who say beer is their beverage of choice today, also felt that way two years ago (83% of those over the 23 years old), and 10 years ago (73% of those 31+ years old).

Wine drinkers, on the other hand, tell a slightly different story. While nearly three quarters of today's wine drinkers say they also preferred wine 2 years ago (73% of those 23+), just 4 in 10 say the same of 10 years ago (44% of those 31+). Many of today's wine drinkers (ages 31+) had a different top pick a decade ago and say they were instead drinking liquor/spirits (26%) or beer (21%).

Wine beats out beer among female consumers

Although beer may be the top alcoholic beverage choice overall, especially among men between 21 and 34 years old living in the southern US region, wine is the top pick among women with 46% of female respondents saying they preferred it over beer and other spirits.

Roughly 42% of those who surveyed they prefer wine are adults 65 years of age or older and in high income households (37% earning $100,000 or more). Those who prefer wine also said their favorite type is red (38%), followed by white (32%), and rose or blush (19%).

Where does craft beer rank within overall beer category?

For those who said their beverage choice is beer, 38% said they prefer domestic non-craft beer, followed by craft beer at 29%, and imported beer with 23%.

Of the eight in 10 drinking-age American consumers who do drink craft beer, 73% consider themselves health-conscious and consider drinking craft beer an indulgence.

Nearly half of all craft beer drinkers say they only drink beer on the weekends compared to 39% of those who drink domestic beer. 

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