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United States Now No. 1 in Wine Consumption

Wine consumption continues to rise in 2013 as more Americans develop a taste for wine, while France, Italy and even China see declines

Ben O'Donnell
Posted: May 14, 2014

It's official: The United States drinks more wine than any other nation on earth. Americans consumed 329 million cases in 2013—a 1 percent increase over 2012, and 18 percent, or 51 million cases, over 2005—making the U.S. now the world's top wine market by volume, according to data from Impact Databank.

Projections in recent years had put the U.S. on track to pass France, based on steady yearly growth in American wine consumption, coupled with declining thirst for wine in most European countries. While a younger generation of Americans is embracing wine, powering especially strong growth in segments like imported wine, sweet wine, sparkling wine and dry rosé, their young counterparts in traditional wine cultures like France and Italy are less enthusiastic.

That generational shift and a struggling economy in most E.U. markets in recent years has led to steady declines in Europe. French consumption dipped 7 percent in 2013 to 313 million cases, according to Impact Databank, a sister publication of Wine Spectator, continuing a drop-off of 14 percent since 2005. Italy, ranked third for now, has seen consumption decline 21 percent since 2005. Fourth-ranked Germany is up 4 percent, including a 1.5 percent hike over 2012, but consumption has fluctuated there in the past decade.

For years, China has been a target for wine exporters. Consumption in the developing market shot up 38 percent by volume between 2005 and 2012 as the People's Republic experienced years of high economic growth, making it the fifth-largest market. But 2013 saw the first downturn in years—a 6 percent decline from 2012, to 187 million cases. An austerity drive led by President Xi Jingping and a growing skepticism toward extravagant wine prices among China's elite are considered the causes of the dip.

While the U.S. is not the top country in per-capita consumption, it is now the only country in the top five that has posted an increase every year since 2000. Globally, consumption was down last year by 1.7 percent, to 2.6 billion cases, according to Impact Databank's upcoming 2013 Wine Market report. (Still, that's 31.2 billion bottles of wine consumed in one year.) As wine continues to captivate American consumers, the United States is the top wine culture for the foreseeable future.

Jim Lewis
Lake Oswego, OR, USA —  May 14, 2014 4:45pm ET
You're welcome.
Gregory Kendall
Laurel, MD, US —  May 14, 2014 6:46pm ET
We are the champions my friends ... and we'll keep on drinking til' the end! : 0
Paul Simmons
Broken Hill, NSW, Australia —  May 14, 2014 9:18pm ET
Boozers! Poor old J.Edgar will be rolling in his grave. Hope on my next trip to the States, I don't see people staggering down the street!!
David Jacoby
Boulder, CO, US —  May 14, 2014 10:51pm ET
Total consumption France vs. U.S., U.S wins by 16 million cases. But wait: population of USA=313 million; population of France=65 million.

I guess we still have a little ways to go... :)
George Gonzalez
San juan usa —  May 19, 2014 10:49pm ET
Details, details, :)

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