Purpose The purpose of this paper is to identify the wine consumption preferences and behavior of Gen Z wine consumers in the USA and to determine if and how Gen Z differ from other major generational cohorts in the USA. This study applies the concepts of generational cohort theory to the US wine market to examine similarities and differences between age cohorts and their potential impact on future wine sales. Design/methodology/approach A quantitative survey was conducted with a quota sample of 1,136 US wine consumers located in all 50 states. Data analysis included one-way ANOVA analysis to test the null hypothesis that the generational cohort means are equal. If the test detected at least one mean difference across cohorts, then pairwise comparisons were performed to identify, which groups differed. The Tukey–Kramer method was used for all post hoc tests. Basic descriptive statistics were also calculated. Findings The results show some parallels in terms of similar consumption levels and a higher preference for red wine across all cohorts. However, on the majority of other common wine consumer research topics, Gen Z shows significant differences. Of specific interest, Gen Z consumers report higher levels of preference for sparkling wine than other cohorts; prefers to drink in social situations; are much more interested in labels and package; make decisions based on varietal and alcohol level and are much more engaged on Instagram and Snapchat social media platforms – all pointed to new marketing tactics needed to reach this new consumer segment. Originality/value This is the first empirical wine research study to explore the wine preferences and behaviors of Gen Z in the US market. This is valuable because Gen Z is a very large population of consumers, comprising 32% of the world population (Miller and Wei, 2018) and already represent more than $143bn in buying power (Dill, 2015). They are expected to have a huge impact on consumer products, not only in the USA but also on a global basis. Given that the USA is currently the largest wine market in the world in both volume and value (Wine Institute, 2019; VinExpo, 2018), it is important that research is conducted on this new and powerful generation.