Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk | AspenTimes.com
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Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk

Kelly J. HayesAspen Times Weekly

Walk into any liquor store and youll be greeted by any number of great bottles of wine. There are wines selling for prices from single digits into the high three figures. There are wines from Italy and wines from Washington, wines from Chile and wines from Colorado, wines from New Zealand and wines from New York.There is perhaps no other kind of retail establishment that carries products so varied in price, quality and global representation in asingle place as a wine shop.So what are we drinking?The Harris Poll people, those folks who run surveys asking what we, as a people, feel about presidential elections, college football rankings and social issues, recently, as in this past December, polled 1,475 American grown-ups, as in those 21 years of age and older, whoidentified themselves as wine drinkers and asked them about their wine consumption habits. The results were interesting.To begin with, 58 percent of the respondents in the poll identified themselves as wine buyers. Thats six out of every 10 people. A pretty high number, but I must note here that this means that four out of every 10 wine drinkers must be drinking wine bought by the other six of us. They say there is no free lunch but, based on this poll, 40 percent of American wine drinkers get free wine.The bad news is that the majority of people who buy wine dont seem to be buying a lot of it. Of the respondents who called themselves wine buyers, 67 percent said they purchase a bottle once a month or less.Thats a case a year or less. Thats more a wine sipper than a wine drinker.The good news is that 8 percent, a little less than one in 10 drinkers, reported that they are buying a bottle of wine at least twice a week.Now thats more like it. This figure is up from five years ago when just 3 percent of wine consumers said they bought that much of the juice. Clearly those who like wine are liking more of it as time marches on.The other good news is that American wine drinkers/buyers seem to be a fairly adventurous lot. Nine out 10 respondents, as would be expected, said they drink American wines. But 37 percent said they drink or buy Australian wines; 22 percent drink wines from Germany, which is the same percentage that said they buy the wines of Spain; and Chilean wines checked in at 20 percent.Beyond that, respondents said that they would consider buying wines from a number of countries that are not currently on most drinkers wine maps. While 1 percent reported that they are currently drinking wines from Turkey and Poland (huh?), nearly two of every 10 surveyed said they would consider the possibility of drinking or buying from those countries.Oddly, just 1 percent of those who answered, about 14 folks by my calculations, said that they would consider buying wines from Canada. Whats up with that, eh?As for Italy and France, those two great nations of Europe were second and fourth respectively amongst the Harris Poll participants when they were asked which countries they bought or consumed wine from. Both had fallen in percentage terms from the 2004 poll, which is an indication of the growing global competition for the wine buyers dollar. (Australia, by the way, tied with Italy for the No. 2 spot in the hearts and wallets of wine drinkers.)Speaking of wallets, the poll also asked folks how much they spend on their wines. Surprisingly, at least to me, only 37 percent said they have ever bought a bottle of wine that cost $30 or more. When asked how much the last bottle of wine they purchased cost, just 9 percent responded $30-plus. Im guessing not many Aspen locals were included in this poll.The majority, 57 percent, said their last bottle purchased set them back less than $15 while 27 percent had bought a wine that cost less than $10, a testament to the values that exist in the world of wine these days.So whats it all mean?The bottom line is that Americans are buying drinking and enjoying wines more than ever from more places than ever. And that can only be good thing.

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be designated appellation of Old Snowmass with his wife, Linda, and a black Lab named Vino. He can be reached at malibukj@wineink.com.


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