They say that 87.46 per cent of all statistics are made up on the spot, but I doubt that Adelaide University's Kym Anderson and Signe Nelgen fabricated theirs. I'm indebted to the wine journalist Andrew Jefford for pointing me in the direction of the ninth edition of their statistical compendium of global wine markets, 1961 to 2009 (adelaide.edu.au/press/ titles/global-wine).
Got your breath back? Anderson and Nelgen cover everything you always wanted to know about wine but were afraid it would be too expensive to ask. If you're stats-mad, their free 467-page compendium will have your head spinning faster than an Aussie shiraz. If you're not, allow me to give you instant mastery of the expanding globalisation of the world of wine.
Traditionally, wine was consumed where it was produced, mostly in Europe with only one in 10 bottles exported before the 1970s. That's risen to nearly four in 10, thanks to the New World. Australia's decade of domination of the export market from the mid-1990s is today being usurped by New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and South Africa.
Despite the fact that Europe produces half the world's wine, and consumes less than a third of it, New World wine exports now surpass those of Europe. Asia and Russia are the great new hope for wine exporters, and thanks to growing demand for wine in new markets, the global decline in wine consumption is slowing down. Yet the world's wine lake still runs to 375 million bottles.
As of 2009, the world's wine countries sold 30 billion bottles worth £61 billion, but the average retail price was still only a pathetic £3.42. France leads the world in supplying super-premium wine, with two-fifths of the value of the world's exports. That's more than three times Italy's share. Then come New Zealand, Portugal, Australia and Spain, followed by Chile, Germany, the US, South Africa and Argentina. So France is top chien on bottle price? Not so. Step forward New Zealand.
Wine's much-vaunted diversity of grapes may not be quite what you think. Only 25 grape varieties account for nearly two-thirds of the world's vineyard plantings. And though Italy and France are the Big Two producers, Spain covers the largest vineyard area. New Zealand is the fastest growing, followed by China. Portugal has the biggest share of its agricultural crop under vine. It also has the highest wine consumption per head.
America drinks the most wine after Italy and France, and spends the most after France and the UK. As for individual spend on wine, the UK comes in a modest sixth, with Austrians spending most per head. The UK is also sixth in the world tax on wine league (Norway is top). We pay the equivalent of 162 per cent tax on non-premium wine, 54 per cent on premium and 20 per cent on super-premium. The most prolific yielder of grapes is India, at 25 tonnes per hectare. The meanest, at just two tonnes, is the UK.
Both production and consumption are declining in Italy and France, but rising in the US, Australia, South Africa, China, Ukraine and the UK. The fact that the Old World and New World combined still export only a third of their wines suggests that expanding globalisation in wine is still in its infancy. That can change faster than you might imagine. Fifty years ago, more than half the world's wine exports came from North Africa. Within a generation they had dwindled to next to nothing.Reuse content