The Grapevine

Wine Industry News – How Much We Drink, Whole Foods Wine Club

October 6th, 2014

Whole Foods has launched a wine club in partnership with and, while fully one-third of Americans don’t drink at all, the top 10% of drinkers over-consume. More on both inside. [level-members]

First, Whole Foods pledges to source interesting wines from around the world and work with to delivery them to your home. The club kicks off with charter members committing to 6-bottle deliveries every quarter. Each installment is priced at $125 including shipping.

Launched in time for holiday gift giving, there are options for gift givers with different budgets. Subscribers will get to open their first bottles within a week of signing on. More information is available on the Wine Club’s website at Whole Foods.

As well as Whole Foods might do, there’s at least 30% of the US that’s just not interested. Difficult to believe, but fully 30% of US citizens do not drink at all! Even more shocking is that the next 30% range from drinking 0.02 drinks per week to a whopping 0.62 drinks per week.

Not good news for wine retailers, of course, but the other end of the spectrum is scarier still, though for different reasons. The top 10% of the country’s drinkers consume nearly 74 drinks per week. That’s 10 drinks a day!

The data is from a 2007 study by Philip J. Cook who used data from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. The data was collected in 2001 and 2002.

This means that the alcoholic beverage industry depends almost entirely on this top ten percent – folks who, by any measure, are over consuming – for its profits and its survival. In fact, if these “super consumers” cut back to the more reasonable 15 drinks per week that folks in the 2nd highest 10% bracket consume, “total ethanol sales would fall by 60%.”

(Chart below links through to coverage on the Washington Post website. Many other sources available, as well.)


That’s a sobering thought, though it should be tempered for most of us by the fact that most folks who are drinking at this unhealthy rate are not doing it with the premium-level bottles that are our bread and butter as specialty wine retailers. Our sweet spot is most certainly the folks in the eight and ninth deciles who average 6.25 and 15 drinks per week respectively. [/level-members]