Wine has become more appealing to a younger generation of drinkers, as the 19-36-year-old sect is the fastest-growing age group of consumers, according to the Wine Market Council. Living proof from this crowd is Amanda Ozer, 31, who has made a respectable career out of her drink of choice. A former employee at The Breakers who climbed ranks at the resort, Ozer is an advanced sommelier at the Virginia Philip Wine Shop and Academy in West Palm Beach. She was named the Southeast Regional Winner in the national 2013 Best Young Sommelier competition, sponsored by the Confréire de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, and is working toward her master sommelier degree. As a millennial wine drinker, Ozer talked to PBI about why her peers are—or should be—popping corks.
Why wine reigns supreme with millennials: It’s more versatile than beer or cocktails. “Wine can go with so many different foods and comes in different flavors. You can get white wines that have more neutral flavors, so even if you’re not biggest wine lover, you can find something you really like.”
How she’d turn a beer drinker into a wine lover: “Start with something light, like Pinot Grigio—something yeasty with effervescent notes, sort of like the light style in beer. I’d also appeal to the fact that it doesn’t make you feel full like beer does. When you drink a Riesling with low alcohol content, you can have more than a couple and not have a buzz.”
A bottle she recommends for young drinkers: Morgadío Albariño, a white wine from Rias Baixas, Spain. “It’s a mild-tasting wine with hints of peach, tart pineapple and Granny Smith apple, but there’s also a taste of mineral in the background. It’s an awesome everyday sipping wine that you don’t have to have food with.”
Three wine tips for millennials:
- Ask for help. “When you go to a wine store, the person working there usually has a wine background. Tell them what you’re looking for, and they’ll always make recommendation for you.”
- “Know that the most expensive wine isn’t always the best. There are some really awesome wines out there for under $20, but you may not know about them unless you ask.”
- Don’t view wine as an investment yet. “If you’re just getting into it, buy it to enjoy it. Collecting wine is more for if you’re seriously into it.”
What’s in her cellar: “I always fall back to Albariño; Grüner Veltliner, which is from Austria; or a Rosé from Provence or California.”
How she got into the industry: While working as a bartender at the Seafood Bar at The Breakers, she enrolled in Philip’s sommelier class. “When the opportunity came to go to Virginia’s course, I thought I wanted to do this to get better idea of what I’m talking about and drinking.” By the end of the class, which has a 50 percent dropout rate, Ozer had the second-highest score—and a job offer from Philip to work at the resort's former L’Escalier restaurant.
What she likes most about her job: “It opens up a whole new world to people. They’re drinking what they want to drink. You get them to open up by making recommendations.”