Barack Obama will have a 'felicitous' effect on Americans' wine habits, a top research organisation's president says.

Obama takes office as president on Tuesday ‘after eight years of no wine drinkers’ in a White House occupied by George W Bush, ‘who stopped drinking a decade ago,’ as John Gillespie put it.

Gillespie heads the Wine Market Council, a Napa Valley-based trade research association. He was speaking in New York at the 2009 Wine Market Council Research Conference.

The nation’s wine industry is tantalized by reports saying Obama’s home in Chicago has a 1,000-bottle wine cellar.

‘What is not known is what the contents of that cellar are – assuming there are contents,’ New York magazine said.

A rival publisher at Gillespie’s seminar said Obama’s staff promised to divulge details after the inauguration.

Obama’s influence among young Americans excites the wine industry.

The basis of ‘stunning growth in the core wine-drinking population’ in the last eight years has been increased consumption by the demographic groups called millennials (up to 32 years old) and, to a smaller degree, Generation X (33 to 44), Gillespie said.

‘In 2009, the oldest millennial will turn 32, but there are still 23m of the 70m millennials who have not yet reached the age of 21,’ he said.

In the same way that Obama exploits the Internet to advance his agenda, millennials and Generation X members are more likely than other generations ‘to be seeing information on wine using the Internet,’ Gillespie said.

As for the potential effects of the economic downturn, Gillespie observed that ‘we have enjoyed steady, if modest, gains in adult per capita consumption of table wine through the last two recession periods of 1990 to 1991 and 2001 to 2003.’

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York