Guy Downes
March 16, 2011 | Wine News | Guy Downes

U.S. wine consumption passes France's

The Chronicle reported today that for the first time the United States has passed France as the largest wine-consuming nation in the world. Our larger population and growing interest in 'wine-and-cheese' culture are cited as reasons for this historic achievement.

America's oldest wine consulting firm, Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, report that shipments of wine to the United States rose 2% in 2010 to 329.7 million cases compared with the French figure of 320.6 million.

So are we really drinking more wine than our friends across the pond? The short answer is no. The French are still ahead in per-capita consumption, but the domestic wine industry is growing in a large part due to younger generations being more exposed to wine via social media channels. There is also the fact that our population is 5 times that of France and wine is now becoming a part of everyday life for many more of us than in years past.

So what wines are behind this surge in American appreciation? According to the Neilsen Company Chardonnay was the best selling varietal in 2010, generating $2.3 billion in revenue. Cabernet Sauvignon came second in the consumption stakes bringing in $1.38 billion. The varietals that grew the fastest in popularity last year were 'Sideways' favorite Pinot Noir along with Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, all of which rose more than 9%. 

The days are long gone where the 'entry' to wine drinking was the consumption of white Zinfandel. Today the millennial generation are choosing more traditional varietals and going for pricier bottles. Wine is playing a part in many more occasions throughout peoples lives and these numbers clearly show it's gaining a historic prominence in American drinking habits.

(Source: SF Chronicle)


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