Talking 'Bout My Generation

What to drink, decade by decade


Yes, it’s my generation’s wine. So what then should be in your glass, you ask? Well, let’s take a look and see what you should be putting in your glass, decade by decade. I’ll break it down for you.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Billboard

The Millennials

21- to 30-year-olds, and people who act like them

This most talked about of generations seems to be the answer to every question you pose a marketer. Who is going to save us? The Millennials! Who is going to buy this wine? The Millennials? Who should we be advertising to? The Millennials! So who are these Millennials, and what should they be drinking?

Well, I’m not a Millennial but from what I gather (since I’ve seen a few of them and have even spoken to one once), they care about issues, they are welded to their smart phones, they have short attention spans, run faster up stairs than down stairs, and are generally un- or underemployed.

So what we’re looking for is a natural wine that’s simple to understand, has an online presence and comes in large containers to limit the running down of stairs in order to reload. Natural wine importers Jenny & Francois has this market nailed – NAILED, I tell you – with their affordable, simply delicious From the Tank wines. Dressed up in simple hipster chic (ironically, that’s plain cardboard to most of us [ironic because hipsters are all about irony] {okay, forget it}), the red is a classic Cotes du Rhone and at about $30 for a 3-liter box, it’s a wine everyone can afford.

Photo courtesy Mr.T in DC via Flickr/CC

Gen X

30- to 40-year-olds

Remember when Gen X was all about being young, hip and cool? What the hell happened? You’re turning into your parents right before your eyes. OMG, it’s actually worse – your parents weren’t living in the modern age when the cost of the college education your kids are going to want in 10 years is already half the value of your house (the value of your house, not your equity in your house!) and rising 10% per year. That’s $50 A DAY, PER CHILD that you have to put away for their education!

Okay, it’s decision time: state school or Two Buck Chuck?

Relax, it’s not that bad. You can enjoy excellent wines today without breaking the bank! In fact, the quality of inexpensive wines has never been better and you can impress your friends and neighbors by introducing them to absolutely delicious, exotic wines from far away lands while still saving for that college education. Explore the wines of Spain (Albarino, Verdejo, Mencia and Rioja) or Portugal (Vinho Verde, Dao, Alentejo) and you can still drink like a world traveler.

Photo courtesy OAKside via Flickr/CC

Gen X, without the edge

40- to 50-year-olds

So you are now in the peak earning years of your lives. You’ve saved up the money to send the kids off to college; why, you might even have one living in the basement at this point saving up to move out when and if he marries and has kids. The mortgage is under control, and you both need and deserve to indulge yourself a bit. The greatest indulgence being cacations! Now’s the time to get out there and explore the world of wine with your boots on the ground.

Yes siree Bob, you’re going to Napa Valley, or Santa Barbara, or the Willamette Valley and you are LOVING IT! This is the Sideways time in your life, a total body, full immersion experience that includes great accommodations, exceptional meals, private tours and mailing lists! Lots of mailing lists, which pretty much locks you into domestic wine. You’re most likely gonna go gaga for Pinot Noir and that will fuel much of your excitement for the coming years, though those old-vine Zins (oh, the history!) have also started to creep into your life.

Photo courtesy MTV Press

Baby Boomers

50- to 65-year-olds

You are so much more sophisticated, well-traveled and knowledgeable than you were just 10 years ago, though maybe no better able to afford to improve your wine purchases. So what do you do? You remember a time when travel to Europe was affordable and special. Before the crowds turned Florence into a living, breathing tour bus, and Venice into Disneyland East. Oh, who are you kidding, Venice is still one of the most magical places on earth. That whining is just part of getting older!

Yes, you remember that beauty of a simpler time and you want to relive that time. All the great village wines of Europe are on your radar today and some of the Grand Cru wines as well. You’re more confident in your palate and who you are, so you may not need to experience every wine on earth these days. But great Burgundy, Brunello and Barolo are definitely what you’re talking about, especially with some age on them. Once the wines lose their structure and take on an edge of decay, they become irresistible. In a way, it’s sort of like dogs looking like their owners!

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Wilfredor

The Silent Generation

65- to 85-year-olds

Life is starting to slow down for you and you can’t drink like you used to, so quality over quantity is the mantra of the day. Of course, 60 is the new 50, so you’re no old codger either. You still can learn a few tricks, but like the feel of a familiar place.

You’re still drinking Bordeaux, mostly from the 1980s at this point when they still made them like they used to. You’ve also found that some old standbys like Chianti Classico and Rioja seem to have found their place in your pantheon of preferred wines. You think it’s because you’re getting sentimental but the truth is, you still can pick a winner and these folks have gotten their act together once again. Okay, the real truth is it’s your memory that’s going. These wines sucked back when you used to like them and you were just sentimental for thinking you liked them. It was the picnic with your future wife that made that day so special, not the wine in the wicker-covered bottle!

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Andrew Levine

The Greatest Generation

They drink anything they goddamn want to and that’s just fine with me. Now get off their lawn!

Photo courtesy danohart via Flickr/CC

Slideshow View

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Kate Statton
    Hand of Snooth
    853836 1,080

    feeling very nostalgic

    Nov 18, 2011 at 1:00 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 10,409

    Well. I'm not sure you hit me. Although I have to say that my wine preferences are somewhat described by parts of what you say about my generation and the adjacent two.

    Very entertaining.

    Nov 18, 2011 at 4:32 PM

  • Snooth User: corylewis
    585427 2

    What happened to Mateus? Early 60's,remember? or Did I hallucinate that? It was awful, but you inspired a flashback...

    Nov 18, 2011 at 4:52 PM

  • Snooth User: ursid
    732087 11

    As far as the wine-touring is concerned, don't forget Sonoma/Russian River, Mendocino, or Paso Robles!

    Nov 18, 2011 at 5:48 PM

  • Snooth User: ursid
    732087 11

    $30 per 3 Liter box is over $7 per 750ml regular bottle equivalent. Cost Plus World Market often offers very tasty wines for $3-4 per bottle. Were I a millennial, I would think twice about paying an additional $3-4 to support a hip winery's "online presence." As a specific example, if you find Grove Ridge at Cost Plus, buy it. We like their cab best at my house, but the merlot was also good. My local outlet is, sadly, sold out of both.

    Nov 18, 2011 at 5:52 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 10,409

    Thumbs up to Cory.

    My first legal bottle of wine was Lancers--very close.

    Nov 18, 2011 at 7:09 PM

  • Snooth User: corylewis
    585427 2

    Yes indeed... here's to happy memories of bad wines in weird bottles

    Nov 18, 2011 at 7:55 PM

  • Like WTF? This dreary stuff is making me remember the "Blank Generation" by Richard Hell and the Voidoids.

    I'm getting more entertainment from my work than from Snooth this morning!

    Nov 21, 2011 at 7:00 AM

  • Snooth User: topherg3
    921880 75

    I do feel like you nailed the time in my life just not the wines I'm into. I don't drink Pinot Noir and I don't care to go to Napa. I'm interested in Gigondas and Bandol and other wines that have a sense of place. Something you can't get in a CA Pinot Noir. Those are the places that I am interested in visiting, The Rhone and Languedoc. Places where they have been making wine for centuries not decades.

    Nov 21, 2011 at 9:37 AM

  • topherg3 I hope you get to visit them. Bandol/Cassis/Aix area is very beautiful, you are near to beaches, islands, gorgeous countryside buzzing with cigales, tough granite mountains and rolling hills. The 2007's are red liquid paradise for the mouth in Gigondas and Bandol. We were recently lucky to get the chance to try the Agri. Biologique wines of Monsieur Delille, at Domaine Terrebrune, Bandol, based in Ollioules, here in London. The 2007 Rouge and 1998 Rouge were surprisingly fruit-intense wines (considering its a Mourvedre dominant blend). Their roots have to go down so far into the unwatered brown rock to find moisture they pick up loads of minerality and complexity. Some hint of liquorice, and that astringency at the top of the nose as well, says they will keep improving. The winemaker says they last twenty years plus, even the rose, yes, rose, from 1993 tasted like a 2010 at the tasting Nov 7th. 2011. France does not allow vines to be watered and the terroir and the struggle of the vines make the character of the wine
    We also liked Cassis white wine and Bandol blanc on past holidays. Some Cotes de Provence reds are very dark and mysterious indeed.

    Gigondas again is a great appelation. L'Oustau Fauquet 1988 got me into it. The wine just kept getting more interesting as the content of the bottle slwoly disappeared; plums, chocolate. Since then I have been an apostle for the wines of gigondas. Rhones have had great years recently in 2007 and 2009. Some of the bigger Rhone names like P J Aine are getting into biodynamic and the taste in the mouth is alive.

    Well done for cheering me up with happy memories due your excellent taste.

    Nov 21, 2011 at 10:08 AM

  • Snooth User: topherg3
    921880 75

    williamsimpson -Thanks for the info, glad to bring back fond memories for you. I just purchased some 2008 Les Pallieres Gigondas, I know 2007 is the year but not too available anymore and priced accordingly. What is your opinion of 2008?

    I do plan on driving from Northern Rhone down to Languedoc and to Bandol next summer making it a wine route road-trip. Any suggestions for where to stop and get off the tourist path?

    Nov 21, 2011 at 11:56 AM

  • It is now ten years ago so worth researching to check it still exists, but we loved staying at Relais de la Magdaleine, Gemenos, Provence on a half board arrangement in 2001. Their wine list and their food was very good, and good to "come home to" after touring in the days. You are not far by road from Bandol, Cassis, Ollioules, Cadiere d'Azur, Sanary etc. The grounds had a big driveway, lots of seats outside. lovely swimming pool, giant chess set, lots of space, donkey. Rooster used to crow at 5am. Might be worth checking out. The village a short walk away was very still and peaceful.
    If you have a car, and research and book your favourite wineries ahead of schedule, you will be fine. You will be able to tell the genuine. Often the wine places we have been (Alsace included) have local inns/auberges/cafes with good regional food to match their wines, and some vineyards have their own restaurants to show off the wine French style with food
    We also liked the more functional Novotel in Aix en provence. It was about 2 miles out of town but had a clean cafe/restaurant that did nice salads and french dishes eg duck, and you could sit with a glass of cold white by the swim pool getting a suntan.
    To avoid crowds miss July an August unless your French is fluent, otherwise we find June and September quieter and friendly. But weqther can be chancier. 2008's no idea, still drinking the 2007!
    We are researching the Var-Ouest region for our holidays in 2012. The tourist office has been helpful. Beaches and villages look very beautiful there

    Nov 22, 2011 at 5:19 AM

  • Snooth User: Kyle Graynor
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    455797 7,460

    You know, I DO run up stairs faster than I run down them . . .

    Nov 23, 2011 at 1:39 PM

  • I asked about Rhone from someone who had been there, topherg3, and they recommended Tain, which has a castle and a river, as a location for visiting Gigondas and Chateauneuf.
    I was also reminded that Domaine de Cayran Gigondas and Guillaume Gonnet Chateauneuf du Pape le Bois Pointu are excellent young wines (by my tongue).

    Nov 24, 2011 at 4:57 AM

  • Snooth User: topherg3
    921880 75

    Thanks for the info I will definitely check out Tain and do some research to find the some other wines that have a sense of coming from a specific place and time. I agree that I will also have to go to Bandol for some sea, wine, and sun. Thanks again.

    Nov 25, 2011 at 12:12 AM

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