Millennials Don’t Care About Wine Ratings

We’ve talked before about how wine ratings are for the birds. They’re subjective but carry an air of objectivity. You won’t be surprised to learn that Millennials don’t hold ratings in high regard when they’re choosing their wine. Instead, there are a bunch of different, very Millennial-like factors we take into account when buying our wines. We know that Millennials are drinking more wine, so if we’re not buying based on expert opinions, how are we making our decision?


We Consult the Internet

If there’s one distinguishing factor that separates Millennials from older generations, it’s that we grew up with technology. And, we have seamlessly integrated it into virtually every facet of our lives. That means, of course, we’re tapping into technology to help us buy our wines, through apps and social media and the vast ocean of information online. Using these tools allows us to rely less on controversial, subjective wine ratings, and more on the opinions of our peers.

In fact, Millennials trust each other more than experts. Our generation has a reputation for not trusting traditional authority figures, and that profound idea easily translates to the world of wine. If you don’t believe in your own nation’s congress to tell you what’s good and bad, why should you trust a wine critic? As Millennials we trust ourselves, our friends, our families, and our peers on the internet above all else.

It’s easy to see why wine ratings haven’t caught on amongst a crowd with such a narrow scope of trust. Maybe in the same way Millennials trust peer reviews and recommendations over what authorities tell us, we’d prefer to get a personal recommendation or the Vivino app to see what others think of a particular wine.


We Consider Value

We spend with a desire for “frugal luxury,” a term used in the Silicon Valley Bank State of the Wine Industry Report for 2016. It means we consider price as a major factor when we’re buying wine, but we don’t want to sacrifice quality. But, unlike our parents, we’re less likely to consider wine a special occasion beverage. Instead, we’re buying it more and more for everyday occasions, like going to a friend’s house, cooking, and shower drinking.

To appeal to our generation means to keep a price point that’s low without losing quality. Looking outside well-branded wine regions like Napa means we’re cutting out the mark-up price by not paying for the name. When doing this, we’ve realized that there are lots of smaller, lesser-known winemakers producing some truly lovable wines.

According to a Sonoma State study on wine consumers, Millennials are actually more concerned with choosing the right wine than older generations are, and overall, they have less confidence in their wine knowledge. For Millennials, buying the right wine means considering how much bang for our buck we’re getting in price, flavor, and booziness. According to Neilsen, alcohol drinkers in general tend to equate a higher price with higher quality. But these numbers change when you zoom in on Millennial tastes, and “a large percentage” of Millennials purposely avoid mass-produced alcoholic beverages, seeking value in other factors.


We Look for Pretty Labels

“Adventurous and fun bottle designs” are far more attractive to our generation, and we’re purchasing based on the look of a wine, according to this Neilsen study. When it comes to wine, Millennials are looking for more than a brand we know and a high rating – in fact, we’re looking for exactly the opposite. We’d rather try a funky-looking bottle that just happens to be from a weird off-beat place like Croatia, or Switzerland, or Peru.



  • ALAN says:

    Who are you to say what Millenials do or like?

  • So, Millennials *do* care about wine ratings, but would rather get them not from industry experts, but from people who know less about wine? That’s how I’m reading your “We Consult the Internet” section.

  • Mike says:

    Sounds like millennials are pretty darned pleased with themselves, in this telling, at least.

  • Nicholas Stengel says:

    Sounds like an opinion piece masquerading as fact. Did you even read the Sonoma State study that you cited? First of all, only 14 percent (less than 60 people) surveyed were Millennials. Second, the combination of risk aversive behavior suggested a reliance on points. Third, information seeking from traditional sources like ratings did not differ significantly (statistically) from the”elders.” If there is one thing this Gen-Xer dislikes, it’s fake news and people claiming their opinion covers a whole generation. Last, everyone likes a good label.

  • silva5451 says:

    Millennials need to look to older wine critics who have the experience to critique wines and recommend good choices as well as value options. Would you trust your surgery to someone who just finished their internship even though they are a contemporary? Pretty labels? forgetaboutit.

  • wineyoda says:

    Millennials have a much more sensible and enjoyable approach to wines that older generations. Bravo on this piece!

Leave a Reply