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Wine-Loving Millennials Are Sending Beer Industry Into a Panic

The newest generation is choosing wine and spirits as their go-to alcoholic drinks, and big beer companies are paying the price.

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While beer pong is still going strong at college campuses across the country, Business Insider reports that many millennials are steering away from beer as their alcoholic beverage of choice. Research conducted by Morgan Stanley shows that rather than reaching for a cold brew, millennials are increasingly choosing wine and spirits over the frothy beverage.

Stephanie Gallo, VP of marketing for E&J Gallo wines, says younger consumers view wine as a social everyday beverage. The misconception that wine can only be enjoyed during a gourmet dining experience is diminishing. According to Gallo, young people are changing the face of the wine industry with a willingness to try wine with screw-tops, use wine in cocktails, and even drink wine out of a box.

Big beer companies like Anheuser-Busch have not taken the news well, especially in light of a recent study that found that 44 percent of drinkers between the ages of 21 and 27 had never tried the Budweiser brand. A decrease in production — down to 16 million barrels a year from 50 million barrels at the company's peak in 1988 — is also a result of young people opting for craft beer varieties in place of traditional lagers.

In an attempt to gain popularity with the younger crowd, Budweiser has launched a series of "mixxtails" that resemble popular cocktails. Anheuser-Busch says these canned cocktails are a hit, especially with women. Although this marketing strategy seems to be effective (sales from the Bud Light Ritas reached $462 million in 2013), critics like Morgan Stanley worry that consumers will eventually move on to real cocktails and forego the canned Budweiser versions.

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