We studied correlates of wine, hard liquor or beer preference among 53172 white men and women in a Northern California prepaid health plan. Preference for a beverage type was reported by 51% of drinkers; 22% of persons with a preference reported exclusive use of the preferred beverage. Persons who prefer wine are likely to be women, temperate, young or middle-aged, non-smokers, better educated and free of symptoms or risk of illness. Persons who prefer liquor are likely to be men, heavier drinkers, middle-aged or older, less educated and afflicted with symptoms or risk factors for major illnesses. Persons who prefer beer are likely to be young men who are intermediate between wine and liquor preferrers for most traits. The traits of persons reporting exclusive use of a beverage type were similar. These data identify correlates of beverage choice which need to be controlled for in alcohol-health studies.