Wine is being discovered by, marketed to the under-30 crowd |

Wine is being discovered by, marketed to the under-30 crowd

Post Independent/Gabrielle Devenish

Vail ” In recent years, even for those under 30, it has become cool to be a wine geek.

Or at least act like one.

Wine tastings and wine bars are sprouting up all over, making wanna-be wine savants out of regular Joes. Words like “bouquet” and “corking” are becoming more commonplace. Reuters even reported sharp decreases in Merlot sales, while sales of Pinot Noir soared, after a character in the Oscar-winning movie “Sideways” shunned Merlot.

Wine has also become more available and affordable. Whimsical labels and screw caps have also challenged its elitism, making it popular among the younger generations.

As younger people are increasingly turning to wine as their drink of choice, events like the 16th annual Taste of Vail, held last weekend, are becoming popular forms of entertainment.

There were many young people among the estimated 5,000 attendees at the four-day event, which featured chefs from more than three dozen Vail restaurants, three renowned guest chefs and six dozen wineries from around the world. Many of the participants in the seminars and tasting were in their mid-20s to early 30s.

Joe Glasner, 24, and his friend Steven Nykamp, 23, came all the way from Berkeley, Calif., to sample and learn more about wine.

Glasner said his taste for wine was developed when he studied abroad in Europe. He said when he learned that wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be good, he began to see it as an integral part of a meal.

Nykamp said many of his friends were turning to wine as their drink of choice, holding wine and cheese parties and attending wine pairing dinners.

“I think more people my age are drinking wine because we’re trying to grow up,” he said as he swirled a glass of Pinot Noir. “I don’t think wine has to be elitist and pretentious.”

Vintner Chris Madrigal, of Napa Valley’s Madrigal Vineyards, said this reaction is what the wine industry is aiming for.

“The industry is educating the under-30 crowd with tastings and such,” he said. The famous “60 Minutes” interview where wine was proclaimed as heart-healthy also helped promote the drink.

“Plus, younger people are more open to wine now that it is more available and affordable. Many quality wines can now compete with beer prices,” Madrigal said.

Self-proclaimed wine connoisseur Alan Agree said that in recent years, he’s noticed younger and younger crowds at wine tastings and festivals. Agree, who’s been attending wine events across the country for more than a decade, said “Sideways” may have had a hand in this trend, but more likely, it’s because wine is now being seen as a complement to food.

“People, especially in the 25-30 demographic, are looking for good food and good wine,” he said.

Madrigal echoed this sentiment. “Now it’s not just about wine, it’s food and wine ” and everybody eats.”

People under 30 are discovering the daily joys of wine, Madrigal said.

“They are naturally thinking of wine and food together, instead of just seeing wine as another form of alcohol,” he noted.

“They are beginning to see wine as food, as part of a meal.”

– Kunin Wines Winemaker Dinner, 7 p.m., April 12, Six89 Restaurant, Carbondale

– The Great Match III ” A Meeting of the Senses; hosted by Catherine Store Wine and Liquor and the Roaring Fork Club, 5:30-8 p.m., April 21, Roaring Fork Club, Basalt.

– Monthly wine-tasting dinner, 6 p.m., April 14, Brickyard Square, Rifle.

– Wine tasting at Turtle’s Liquor, 4-7 p.m., April 12 and 13, Turtle’s Liquor, Glenwood Springs.

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