Whatever your relationship with wine, fermenting grapes (and sometimes other fruits) is big business. It isn't static, either. The world of wine and wine consumption is ever changing. New markets are springing up, and the character of established markets is constantly shifting to accommodate fluctuations in taste, availability and the dramatic interplay of man, grapes and nature. Economics plays a role, too. If you can't make your house payment, you'll be less likely to splurge on a premium wine with your evening meal. That doesn't mean you won't indulge at all. You might just want to stick with the domestic stuff and leave the pricey imported labels for special occasions.
Let's take a look at wine consumption around the world. It probably isn't much of a surprise that countries that produce a lot of wine also usually consume it in large quantities. Europe has been in the winemaking and wine drinking business for centuries. As a continent, it includes a number of key nations that make strong claims to prime spots among the top 15 wine consuming countries on Earth. Below, you'll see their consumption figures in liters and as a percentage of world consumption for 2009.
- France- 2,913,800 (12.4)
- Italy- 2,450,000 (10.43)
- Germany- 2,011,800 (8.56)
- United Kingdom-1,266,000 (5.39)
- Russia (in aggregate) - 1,145,200 (4.87)
- Spain- 1,127,100 (4.80)
- Romania - 509,700 (2.17)
- Portugal- 455,000 (1.94)
This gives Europe the top spot in global wine consumption at around 60 percent. Even though France was the largest wine consumer by volume in 2009, it no longer claims the top spot globally. As of 2010, that honor goes to the United States where wine volume rose to 330 million cases (and France rang in at 321 million cases). France is still the per-capita leader, though, at a rate five times higher than U.S. consumption.
In North America, the United States claimed 11.71 percent of the world wine market in 2009 (2,752,140 liters), and that figure is up. Not only is the U.S. a big wine importer, we also boast wineries in each of the 50 states. Our wine consumption figures have climbed even in the recession, where in Europe, consumption has been flat. Canadian figures were 1.42 percent (333,600), down from 2008 totals.
Moving south, both Argentina and Brazil are on the short list of large South American wine consumers, with almost 5 percent of the global market between them. Chile is also a significant consumer at a little under 1 percent.
Australia comes in at more than 2 percent (493,100 liters) and South Africa is also important at 1.46 percent (341,900 liters). Both of these countries are aggressively developing their wine making industries and cultivating their respective domestic markets.
The big news in global wine consumption, though, is emerging markets where wine is becoming a beverage of choice for new cultures and new generations. In 2010, global wine production stumbled, and a little less than 1 percent of the available vineyard land was lost, but consumption was still up, thanks in part to countries like China and India.
But wine doesn't just happen; it's made, and for many of us, the process of growing the grapes and aging, serving and certainly drinking wine has a wonderful mystique about it. In some parts of the world, that mystique is absent, but the love of wine is still evident in its reliable presence as part of the ritual of daily life. Your wine preferences might be limited to an annual glass of Champagne to ring in the New Year -- or you may have a dedicated wine chiller in your kitchen or a sociable Sommelier you can tap for advice on the latest new vintage from your favorite winery. Whatever your take on wine, vino is a beverage with economic clout and a global fan club.
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