Which Is More Popular: Beer, Wine, or Liquor?

Pop quiz: When you got out a-boozin’, what’s your drink of choice? I’m guessing that for not quite half of you, it’s beer. Am I right? Gasp! It’s magic! Or, y’know, it’s the results of a recent Gallup poll, in which 41 percent of drinkers in the U.S. reported that they usually pick beer as their booze of choice. But hey, let’s go with magic — I like that better. For the curious, 31 percent of drinkers favor wine according to the poll, whiole 23 percent go for the hard stuff. Where do you fall in your preferences?

Interestingly, the beer figure is one of the highest Gallup has recorded in recent years; back in 2005, only 36 percent of drinkers reported that they reached for beer when they chose to drink. It definitely hasn’t regained the popularity it had during the ’90s, though, when almost half of the U.S.’s drinking population put it down as their drink of choice. What was going on in 2005? Apparently our preference for wine was at its peak then, with the years between 2002 and 2005 having seen a rise in wine drinking in America. Interestingly, though, wine is still at the top when we take a look at beverage preference by gender: 46 percent of female drinkers pick wine, while only 17 percent of men go for it.

Oh, and by the way, when we’re talking about the U.S.’s drinking population, we mean about two-thirds of the country’s total population. According to the poll, 64 percent of American adults responded that they “have occasion to use alcoholic beverages” (does the language used in these kinds of surveys make anyone else giggle just a tiny bit?), while about 36 percent say that they abstain from drinking completely.

It’s anyone’s guess why our preferences are they way they are, though. TIME suggests that it might have something to do with the fact that the number of breweries in the U.S. recently reached 3,000 for the first time since Prohibition; bear in mind too, though, that as we learned back in April, domestic wine production is up as well. As such, we probably can’t chalk it entirely up to the number of breweries in the country. I mean, there are more craft distilleries around these days, too, but as the poll shows, hard liquor consumption is lagging pretty far behind.

I’d be interested to see how the results of a poll like this might shift in other parts of the world. After all, we already know that Americans are far from the world’s heaviest drinkers; what’s the pick of choice when you go to, say, Cook Islands? Or consider the fact that in Russia, beer was considered food rather than alcohol until the beginning of 2013, according to LiveScience. Regional quirks like that would be bound to paint a totally different picture depending on where you are.

Anyhoo, the next time you raise your glass for a toast, take a look around and see what the beer to wine and hard liquor ratio is. Does it support the Gallup poll findings? Be sure to report back to us — inquiring minds want to know!

Images: QuinnDombrowski/Flickr; Imgur