U.S. Becoming World's #1 Wine Drinker

Contributor
A look at who out-drinks who in the global wine and spirits marketplace.

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Individually, we may be a nation of moderate wine drinkers, but collectively we Americans know how to throw a hell of a party — in 2012, we will celebrate becoming the world's largest consumer of table wine, surpassing those rowdy Italians.

We are already #1 in a variety of categories — buying the most bottles of table wine (which excludes sparkling and fortified wines) at retail online wine shops. In spirits, we throw back more tequila, bourbon, liqueurs, and cognac than anyone else and are #2 in Scotch, rum, gin, and vodka.

The figures were unveiled yesterday in New York at a press conference and party thrown by Vinexpo, the world's largest wine and spirits trade exhibition, which commissioned its 14th comprehensive international study from International Wine and Spirit Research. Vinexpo will celebrate its 30th birthday June 19th through the 23rd in Bordeaux, France, welcoming 50,000 visitors from 140 countries.

"Within the next 10 years, wine consumption in the United States will have increased three times faster than the global average," says Robert Beynat, CEO of Vinexpo. He credits the growth of wine drinking in this country to the healthy growth of the domestic wine business, even though we import 27.8% of our wines.

Individually, American adults drank an average of about 15 bottles of wine during 2010 — only about 15th as a country (behind even Canada) — but collectively we drank 288,080,000 cases of wine (12 bottles per case). We drink more red wine than white or rosé, and that trend is predicted to continue, although rosé consumption is growing rapidly in the U.S. and globally.

Worldwide consumption of table wine — more than 90% of all wines purchased — is about 2.704 billion cases. Ten countries produce 90% of the world's wines — in order, France, Italy, Spain, U.S., Argentina, Australia, China, Chile, South Africa, and Germany.

The top five consumers in quantity are Italy, U.S., France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (the only major consumer which produces little wine). Germany, France, Russia, U.S., and Italy are the top five drinkers of sparkling wines, including Champagne. Not surprisingly, America already leads the world in terms of our total spending on wine — about $21.8 billion in 2010 — followed by the UK.

Worldwide spirits consumption continues to grow in all categories, except for a decrease in gin, which is losing market share to the continuing surge in vodka consumption.

According to Vinexpo, growth in world wine consumption will continue to be driven over the next five years by three countries — the U.S., China, and Russia.

Concludes Vinexpo's Beynat, "The world is drinking more, and the world is drinking better."