Monday, January 18, 2021

Predicting Higher Demand for Wine in 2021.

    The Case to be Made for a Party 

At the end of Prohibition in the U.S. the consumption of wine as measured, slowly grew until war was declared in 1941 and rationing took over everyday lives. Whiskey distilleries were repurposed to produce grain alcohol for torpedo fuel, which interestingly created unintended consequences of new cocktails for sailors and higher rum consumption in the U.S. Fifteen percent of total beer production was allocated to servicemen and while wine wasn't rationed, prices of alcohol increased during the war making it difficult to afford a bottle of anything, so wine consumption fell. 

Imagine the exuberance at the end of 1945 when WWII came to an end, completing a fifteen-year period that spanned the 1929 Market Crash exacerbated by the Dust Bowl, leading to the Great Depression, food lines, increased poverty and homelessness, and high levels of unemployment. 

On August 15th, 1945 with Japan's surrender and acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, there was hope those unhappy times would soon be behind the country. The sacrifice of the Greatest Generation had paid off and the men and women in the military would soon be coming home! Life would eventually return to an altered normal - but a much better one full of peace and hopefulness.

As the soldiers were brought home starting in 1945 with those in the European Theatre under Operation Magic Carpet, a rolling party broke out on the homefront. It is estimated that 1946 consumption of alcohol reached pre-prohibition levels of 2 liters per capita. Wine became a beverage of interest for many of the returning service members who had experienced European wine.

There are similar post-event stories you can find regarding the Roaring 20s; a time when people felt the need to kick up their heels after several severe recessions, the Spanish Influenza, WWI, and the ratification of the Volstead Act; another bit of alcohol regulation that had unintended consequences. 

It seems that when we are severely tested, we need to exhale as a population, and that fact makes a good case to predict a party in 2021 and perhaps extending into 2022, depending on the timing of when we gain a measure of control over COVID-19.

    Happy Days Are Here Again

Maybe you aren't a history fan, but I enjoy it because sometimes it gives us insights to the future, and I believe this is one of those times where we can see parallels that apply to wine consumption. 

Some have equated this past year to a war on this virus and in many ways you could say this is another kind of world war. Like WWII, rationing became part of life in the early part of the Pandemic when we couldn't find staples or toilet paper. Families have sacrificed and been taken out of their normal routines. Victory gardens became a thing again as people started working from home. A threat has been hanging over all of the world that we are reminded of when we venture out to buy groceries and see everyone in masks. Like the depression a large percentage of the population now requires unemployment assistance. Food lines have wrapped around blocks in the past year. 

Bottom line - it's been a tough year!
As we roll vaccines out and start to see regional success in reducing infection rates, moving us closer toward herd immunity and along with that, the reopening of business and the relaxation of enhanced heath protocols, I believe just like the end of past periods of world-wide stress, we will experience a time of exuberance.

Call it a rolling party that will resemble Operation Magic Carpet with regions in the U.S. opening at different times, having deferred celebrations, and catching up. I see it as pent-up demand for recovered freedoms such as leaving the house, eating at a restaurant, having groups gather for celebrations, and at some point the restoration of travel and international tourism. 

Alcohol has always been a part of celebrations and that includes wine in 1946 so I believe we will experience the same with wine as the U.S reopens to business and people regain confidence in their safety (Headline slide).


Please feel free to offer any comment below.


  1. Thanks Rob! It's wonderful to hear some good news again.

    1. Thanks Liz. I'm so happy to report there is something better on the horizon, though you don't have to be Nostradamus to conclude this year should be better than last!

  2. The advance news from Australia and New Zealand (as of yesterday), where they have just ended lockdowns and opened up: Average fine-dining restaurant table ticket up from $150 to $240. Exuberance, indeed.

    1. Thanks Unk4:08 - I've read many surveys from tourism bureaus and some news reports from China. The general consensus is the recovery starts close - local, and works its way out. International tourism is the last to recover. One survey said that 60% of people planned on a trip to someplace close as the first thing they were going to do when the coast is clear.

      Me? I'm going to Hawaii as soon as I feel safe and going to sit on the beach, swim on the reef, and go out to dinner every night ... then take a vacation from vacation when I get home.