US surpasses France to become largest wine consumers in the world
Wednesday 16 March 2011
In what's already been described as a badge of honor for the US, news that Americans outdrank the French to become the largest wine-consuming nation in the world has generated a lightheaded buzz online.
According to a report released Tuesday by wine industry consultants Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, the US shipped nearly 330 million cases of wine last year, up two percent from 2009 to break industry records.
That translates to an estimated $30 billion in retail sales - up four percent from the year previous. France, by comparison, shipped 321 million cases in 2010.
The report was prepared for the Wine Institute which represents a thousand wineries in California.
Per capita consumption of wine, however, is still higher in France.
The fact that the US usurped this title from France has generated smug, cheeky headlines within the American media, like "Put a Cork in it France," from the online-only newspaper Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and "We're #1!!!" from the blog of a popular American wine writer, "Dr. Vino."
The report also highlighted sparkling wine and champagne as having a "remarkable year." Shipments in 2010 were up 10 percent to 15.4 million cases, "...suggesting that consumers may be broadening their use of these wines beyond special occasions," said the press release.
California wine accounted for a 61 percent volume share of the total US wine market, shipping out 200 million cases - a retail value of $18.5 billion. The most popular varietal was Chardonnay, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon. Other varietals that demonstrated growth included Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Riesling and Muscat.
Value-priced wines like Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Pinot Noir and off-dry wines, or slightly sweet wines, also helped drive consumption, the report said.
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