There have been three important changes in American wine drinkers over the past two decades. First, Americans upgraded their palates, moving from inexpensive jug wines with retail prices of less than $3 a bottle to popular-premium wines costing $3 to $7, super-premium wines at $7 to $14 a bottle and ultra-premiums, which cost more than $14.That's interesting about Parker (as is his Wikipedia page, which notes that some chateau owners are so desperate to curry favor with the guy that they've done everything from send death threats to offer up their daughters). Meanwhile, I assume U.S. demand is going to keep growing rapidly—especially if we keep getting bombarded with 60 Minutes specials on how those accursed French oenophiles never get heart disease. And that could make things interesting.
Second, preferences are shifting toward reds, both because palates have become more sophisticated and because red wines may have health benefits that whites do not.
Third, Americans increasingly prefer the consistent taste of fruity (high-acid, high-sugar) wines produced in California, Argentina, Australia, Chile and New Zealand to the "mystery in every bottle" (typically drier) wines from Old World Europe. This trend has been accelerated (or, skeptics maintain, created) by the independent critic Robert Parker, who changed the global wine-rating business by setting a high ethical standard in his wine reviews that was missing before he vaulted to prominence in the 1980s.