Filed under: Wine
Over the last few years, wine drinking has risen in the U.S. and now for the first time we are the largest consumers of wine in the world. Worldwide, wine drinkers consumed 6.4 billion gallons last year which is a 0.8 percent drop from 2007. The Paris-based International Organization of Vine and Wine says that consumption fell in all of Europe's major wine-producing and consuming countries, including France, Italy and Germany.
Reports are also good for California wines, even as foreign consumers drank less they bought more U.S. wine. For the first time U.S. wine exports went over the $1-billion sales mark and New World wines are commanding a growing share of the market. Italy still exports the most wine but for the first time European vineyards accounted for less than half the world's grape production, showing how much the wine industry has shifted over the past few decades.
Wine producers seeking fresh mouths for their product are heading to China which finally became one of the ten biggest wine consumers in 2008 and is expected to rise in the ranks in the coming years. Chinese consumers are gradually getting more informed about the various kinds of wine and winemakers and other wine groups from all over the world are setting up shop in Shanghai and other major cities. Chinese wines still dominate the markets there (partly because a 14 percent import duty makes them more expensive) but winemakers from around the world are opening up distribution channels and trying to figure out what appeals to Chinese drinkers. An AFP report says that French wine is selling well because of its reputation and that Chinese drinkers are attracted to the bottles and branding of Australian wine. As the Chinese drinking audience grows in size and influence I wonder how these new consumers will change the way wine is produced and packaged.