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Three-fourths of people believe the ‘rules of wine’ are intimidating

New research reveals 67% believe there are right and wrong ways to drink wine, though only 17% “always” follow the rules. 

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Medium shot of an elderly couple having lunch and toasting wine glasses at the patio table with friends.

Eight in 10 people don’t always follow wine etiquette, new research suggests. 

According to a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. respondents aged 21 and older, 67% believe there are right and wrong ways to drink wine, though only 17% “always” follow the rules. 

Who are the most rule-abiding drinkers? 89% of Gen Zers aged 21–24 report following the so-called “rules of wine,” down to 60% among millennials — with only 12% of baby boomers sniffing and swirling. 

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Woodbridge Wines, the survey also found that nearly three-fifths reported enjoying wine at least three days a week, with those over 65 drinking it more often than younger groups.

Regardless of age, seven in 10 said they consume wine more than any other type of alcohol during the winter holiday season.

Though wine is most often enjoyed with or around dinnertime, more than a quarter say that they usually drink wine with breakfast or brunch, and 26% think Happy Hour should be before 5 p.m.

When asked about their favorite wine and food pairings, men preferred mac and cheese over other dishes (41%), while women opted for wings (34%). Unexpectedly, 62% of men and 50% of women said they prefer wine over beer while watching sports.

Wine-drinking habits differed by region, as Northeasterners (54%) preferred to add ice cubes more than others and Southeasterners were most likely (41%) to drink wine without swirling or sniffing it.

When it comes to where they drink, unconventional locations topped the list, with 43% enjoying wine in bed and 30% while taking a bath. Drinking wine on the beach was another favorite among 42% of respondents.

Respondents also place more importance on where they drink wine (52%) than they do on what type of container they drink it out of (42%) or the quality/price of the wine (43%).

When asked how much wine etiquette improves their drinking experience, only 22% replied that traditional guidelines “greatly” enhance it.

“Just like everything in life, there are so many old-school, traditional rules in wine culture that people feel like they need to follow — swirling, sniffing, pairing,” said Serena Shrivastava, Brand Director, Woodbridge Wines. “We encourage everyone to play by their own rules instead and leave any judgement behind.”

Three in four think the so-called “rules of wine” can be intimidating, which could explain why most don’t fully adhere to wine etiquette.

“We think there should only be one rule: enjoy wine your way — however, wherever, and whenever you want.” added Shrivastava. “Wine is for more than fancy occasions and fancy glasses. Don’t be afraid to drop an ice cube in your wine glass at home, grab a can of wine instead of a beer at a tailgate, or pair a Cabernet with some delicious cheese fries at the ballpark. When you ‘wine your way,’ anything goes.”

TOP WAYS AMERICANS REJECT WINE ETIQUETTE 

  • Drinking white wine at room temperature instead of chilled - 46%
  • Holding a glass by the bowl rather than the stem- 44%
  • Adding ice to wine - 43%
  • Filling their glass to the top - 42%
  • Sniffing the cork - 36%
  • Tasting wine while wearing strongly scented perfume/aftershave - 34%
  • Drinking wines “out of order” (e.g. red before white, sweet before dry, etc.) - 32%
  • Drinking without looking, swirling, or sniffing - 32%
  • Gulping wine down quickly - 25%
  • Pairing wine with non-traditional foods - 19%

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