Despite the popularity of "Mad Men," most Americans aren't swigging Old Fashioneds. As it turns out, most prefer wine (35 per cent) and beer (36 per cent), with liquor falling to a distant third (23 per cent), according to a Gallup poll from July 7-10, 2011. But the interesting revelation about these findings is the fact that, overall, wine is finally catching up to beer (except for young adults who prefer the hard stuff)!
Poll data going back twenty years shows that in 1992, US drinkers overwhelmingly favored beer (47 per cent) to wine (27 per cent). That gap has been gradually narrowed over the last two decades. The recent poll also finds that, while preference for beer dropped among all age groups, it declined most dramatically among young adults (a decline of 12 per cent since 2010). Young adults still largely favor beer (39 per cent), but prefer liquor (29 per cent) to wine (25 per cent).
Geographically speaking, beer is the preferred beverage of those in the Midwest (47 per cent), compared with wine (31 per cent) and liquor (17 per cent). In the East, beer and wine are nearly on equal terms (37 and 40 per cent, respectively), while in the South and West liquor preference is much higher than elsewhere (28 and 29 per cent, respectively). Indeed, preference for liquor is nearly equal to that for beer (with a difference of only one or two per cent). Wine is, however, the preferred drink in both the South and West.
The Gallup poll also shows that an increased preference for wine and decreased preference for beer goes hand in hand with higher education and income levels. Women, unsurprisingly, favor wine (51 per cent) over beer (22 per cent), while statistics are almost exactly the reverse for men, who favor beer (48 per cent) over wine (20 per cent). What we need now is research into the underlying causes of these trends. How much of the differences are due to economics, culture or biology? Do more educated and wealthy drinkers prefer wine over beer because they can afford the cost difference? Is Midwesterners preference for beer related to higher beer production levels in that part of the country? Now those are questions that opinion polls cannot answer.
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