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.