04/19/2012 05:21 pm ET | Updated Jun 19, 2012

Who Has the Buying Power? Women, of course

On a recent trip to South America, each night that my family sat down to dinner in a restaurant, the waiter immediately handed my husband the wine list. But honestly, we don't need to leave the country to experience the bias that immediately directs a waiter to the man at the table to make the alcohol buying decisions.

I happen to be the wine buyer in our family. I do the research, read up on wines in magazines like Food & Wine and the Wine Spectator and hope my husband will like my choices. He usually does.

Now it turns out that alcohol producers and entrepreneurs have finally come to the realization that women are taking control of what alcohol is consumed -- both at home and at restaurants. As a result, they are finally trying to deliver what they think women want.

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, women are closing the drinking gap, consuming more alcohol at restaurants and making most of the purchasing decisions for home.

Statistics show that women have been ordering more drinks. The Chicago Tribune piece stated that alcohol servings in restaurants to women increased by 9 percent in 2009, and 3 percent in 2010, according to NPD Group, a market research firm, while servings to men decreased 4 percent in 2009 and 6 percent in 2010. Men still consumed about 10 percent more.

Last March, Deerfield-based Beam Global Spirits & Wine, a unit of Fortune Brands, announced that it acquired Skinnygirl Margarita, a low-calorie, ready-to-drink cocktail sweetened with agave syrup.

"Women tend to be smarter customers in general," Michael Binstein, owner of Binny's Beverage Depot, an Illinois based liquor store with several locations, told the LA Times. "They understand value, and they're adventurous in terms of what they like to try and experiment with."

Adult Chocolate Milk -- a sweet, vodka-infused drink and another fast-selling product, according to Binstein, is developed by Tracy Reinhardt and Nikki Halbur in a home kitchen and sold in 28 states.

"The fact of the matter is that women in this country constitute the majority of vodka consumers, and they've been ignored," Adam Kamenstein, chief executive of privately-held Voli Spirits LLC (which a year ago rolled out Voli Light vodkas with the tagline "stay sexy") told the LA Times.

So, next time you find yourself out to dinner and the waiter hands your man the wine list, show him who's really boss.