What Americans Drink: New Study Shows We Love Pricey Wine (and Tequila)

New study delves deeper into the consumption habits of Americans

In spite of the recession, Americans solidified their position as the world’s largest consumers of wine, drinking 4.5 percent more in 2011 than in 2010 — more than 3.8 billion bottles — after just passing the French and Italians in that category. We also drink the pricier stuff.

These new figures from 2011, the most-recent available, were released yesterday by Vinexpo, the Bordeaux-based wine exhibition company in its 17th annual survey.

Among other findings:
• Americans are the largest consumers of wine that cost more than $20 a bottle.
• A lot of the wine Americans drink is from foreign markets, as the U.S. is the third-leading wine importer.
• Consumption of sparkling wine is still a small segment of the market, but our bubbly buying is growing at a rate twice that of still wines.
• We are also exporting a lot of domestically made wine, ranking sixth in the world.
• The Chinese just passed us to take third spot in red-wine drinking. They drink relatively little white wine, while 40 percent of our consumption is white, which allows us to be number one overall.
• The U.S. does not live by wine alone; our consumption of spirits rose by 7.59 percent in 2011 over 2010.
• Among spirits, vodka, rum, and bourbon are our poisons of choice — and we actually drink more tequila than do the Mexicans who produce it.
• Meanwhile, the Europeans are turning wimpish, with the Germans, British, French, Italians, and Spanish all drinking substantially less in 2011 than they did in 2007.

Vinexpo will have its semi-annual exhibition, the world’s largest wine and spirits show, in Bordeaux from June 16 to 20.

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