Perfect Pairing: Social Media and Millennial Wine Enthusiasts

Social media creates communities of interest, so what could be more natural than reaching young wine enthusiasts through Twitter? Wine is inherently social – you drink it with other people. It’s also inherently discussable and recommendations are a form of social currency.

Given the affinities, it’s no great surprise that it’s pretty easy to find young wine marketers on Twitter. Yesterday I spoke with Shana Ray (@sharayray), an ex-ad agency strategic planning professional and social media strategist who works with the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau to help wineries with their social media strategies. Shana says there is a lot of interest in Millennials among wine marketers. She is considering doing some of her own ethnographic research to help them get insight into young wine enthusiasts.

Other fascinating Millennial wine marketers I’ve friended online include Sasha Kadey, (@skadey, King Estate Winery), and Leah Hennessey (@millennier).

Most of the tweeting is around books, wine news, wines tasted. But there has already been at least one real time ‘Twitter wine tastings’, sponsored by Project Vino. (This technique was first used by bloggers has been going strong for over a year at

As more Millennials join Twitter, I suspect wine marketers will be among the first to engage them with real social currency — knowledge of and news of wine, where to find it, and connections to real wine authorities. What makes these conversations so powerful is that they can happen right in the store or restaurant. Mike McGowan, aka @WineGuyMike is creating in-store kiosks and a few months ago I blogged about Drync Wine, a cool mobile app for easy access to wine recommendations. Mintel data suggests that it will be worth the effort: adults 18-24 are more likely than average to say they ‘stick with the brands they know’ and more decided based on brand than on price.

Millennials’ love affair with wine is part of a larger relationship wtih gourmet foods. Millennials think of food and wine as an ‘art form’, and eating and drinking with discrimination as another means of self-expression. Although it may seem counter intuitive, a love for gourmet actually decreases with age. Twenty-two percent of young people 18-24 agree with the statement “I try to eat gourmet food whenever I can”, a figure that is 20% higher than that of all U.S. adults. Their love of fine food extends to wine. Unlike French Millennials, young adults in North America are increasing their wine consumption. A Gen Y blogger who calls himself ‘The VinoBandito’ describes the appeal this way:

I’d like to let you in on a little secret about young people. Just around the time we reach legal drinking age we also start to have a desire for sophistication or a desire to be seen as an adult. We’ve done a lot of moving on from our teenage years and, contrary to popular belief, the majority of us are not a bunch of binge drinking, hard partying, pierced, and tattooed hooligans as we are portrayed in the press. The majority of young people today are smart, ambitious, inquisitive, and above all we’re sophisticated and discerning consumers (even if we’re not yet, we like to think so). This is where wine can compete. Make us feel sophisticated, after all this is one of the ways it is marketed to adults. Wine is a complex and beautiful drink with a great history and a great culture. This is something a lot of the Millennial Generation would love to learn about but the marketers don’t think we want to learn the story. Sure we have our idiosyncrasies and like cool stores, but most of all we want to be treated like the adults that we are.