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Oct 24, 2008 04:54 PM

Interesting new data on US wine consumption

An article in Wine Spectator quoting The U.S. Wine Market report, notes that U.S. wine consumption continued to grow for the 15th year in a row.

* In 2008 that's 306 million cases/ 18 billion glasses totaling over $25 billion!
* The United States now drinks more wine than Italy and in 5 years may be the number one wine consuming nation.
* On a per-capita basis in 2007 US consumed 85 servings annually.

I also noticed another wine related story in the WSJ that made sense after seeing this data, about a wine blogging convention in Sonoma. The number of wine blogs has increased from less than 50 four years ago to over 500 today.
Hey nobody called me! Anyone want to sponsor me to go?
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  1. This may, at first glance, seem impressive, but the most important figure is one you left out.

    The US has a large population relative to European countries. So passing Italy in term of TOTAL consumption is not all that impressive, nor difficult. Total consumption is not the figure to focus upon. It's PER CAPITA consumption that is important, and the US is still ranked in the mid-30s, at a pitiful 2.47 gallons. That is approximately 12 bottles, one case, 9 liters, per year. Most Western European countries have consumption figures 4-5 times tyT amount.

    That means there are a whole lot of people in the US who do not drink wine, or alcohol of any kind.

    4 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      American's consumption per capita of french champagne is about one glass per year, and about 3 glasses of sparkling wine of all types. It seems like we don't do a lot of celebrating these days. What happened to "here's looking at you, kid"?

      1. re: zin1953

        I wonder how much of this has to do with the fact that in Europe they generally don't mark up wine three times the full retail price in restaurants? It's a bigger part of the culture there.

        1. re: SteveTimko

          Steve, there are competing factors here. YES, you are absolutely right that the **average** markup in "local" bistros and caf├ęs (as opposed to Michelin starred restaurants, let's say) is marked up less. And more importantly, wine is an important part of the culture: not only are you still likely to see people in bars order wine, rather than beer or cocktails as you would in the average American bar; but you also have a much higher incidence of home consumption, in that wine is a part of virtually every home dinner, etc., etc.

          However, in Europe generally, the blood alcohol content that is the limit for DUI is MUCH lower than in the US. The national standard here is 0.08% BAC. In France and most of the EU, it is 0.05% BAC. In Sweden, it can be as little as 0.02% BAC! That is a serious incentive NOT to drink while out, or at the very least, have a designated driver (or taxi!).

          1. re: zin1953

            Europe generally has better mass transit as well.
            The Italian families I knew growing up used to drink a lot of wine, but it was pretty much plonk. The good stuff to them would be jug wine.

      2. Why does it have to be a contest? Why does it matter to anyone how much wine Americans drink per capita versus say French people (unless you own a winery)?

        5 Replies
        1. re: Chinon00

          LIke it or not, the US is the planet's consumer KingKong.
          Whatever US does ( or stops doing ) sets the trend.
          Any wine producer in France or Italy will tell you they were making a living with ____ ( you fill the blank: lettuce, pigs, &etc ) up until the early 80s, when Americans started their wine buying spree.
          And then came Parker with the ratings.
          And then came the stemware. And then ...
          In other words, ( and again: like it or not ) it matters to the entire planet Earth whatever Americans like and/or dislike.

          1. re: Chinon00

            Where did you get an idea of competition out of these comments? I find this kind of information interesting (I'm not in the business) and apparently others do too. Any data is at least worth considering.
            I guess I don't understand why you'd enter the thread to make a kind of negative post...?

            1. re: Chinon00

              This has nothing to do with "competition." Where did you get that from?

              1. re: zin1953

                "and the US is still ranked in the mid-30s, at a PITIFUL 2.47 gallons."

                1. re: Chinon00

                  If you took that as competitive, then that is MY fault, and I apologize. My comment was in response to this from the OP: "The United States now drinks more wine than Italy and in 5 years may be the number one wine consuming nation."

                  People think that the US is a LARGE wine-consuming country. It isn't. We consume more wine than Italy? That's not difficult. We also consume more than Portugal, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands. After all, our population is over 300 million people, compared (approx.) to 60 million for Italy, 10 million for Portugal, 500,000 for Luxembourg, and 50,000 for the Caymans . . .

                  BUT all of those nations have a higher PER CAPITA rate of consumption. And that is the only figure that really counts in these comparisons!

                  We are the largest retail market in the world based on dollar value? Well, that's no surprise! Who else is silly enough to spend $300+ on bottles of Napa Valley Cabernet that cost some $25 to make? to chase "high points" for wines that they've never tried before, only to get really angry at the poor sales clerk for not having any in stock!

                  * * * * *
                  "Not much of a wine store, are you?"
                  "Well, we had some when it was released eight months ago, but we sold out almost as soon as it arrived."
                  "That's nonsense! It was just reviewed this week!" and the would-be customer stomps out . . .

                  Yes, Virginia, it happens all the time.
                  * * * * *

                  According to the OP, "On a per-capita basis in 2007 US consumed 85 servings annually." That is true ONLY if each serving is LESS than four ounces.

                  According to the OP, "The number of wine blogs has increased from less than 50 four years ago to over 500 today." Well, isn't that true for EVERY field of blogging???

                  A much better source for information, BTW, would be here:

                  That said, I erred when I used the word "pitiful," and again, I apologize. After a lifetime in the trade, making, marketing, importing, wholesaling, and retailing wine, I *know* there is a lot more "work" to do before the US can really be called a "wine-consuming nation."