America will soon consume more wine than any other country, according to the Wine Market Council.

In its annual survey of US wine consumers, the Council, a grouping of growers, producers and other wine industry professionals, indicates that some 304m cases of wine were sold in the US last year, the largest number in history – and the 15th consecutive increase.

Wine Market Council President John Gillespie told decanter.com that ‘most in the wine trade believe that the US passed Italy in 2007’ in terms of overall consumption – and is likely to pass France in total volume of wine consumption by 2010.

Council board member Mel Dick – also wine chief of Southern Wine & Spirits, the largest US wine and spirits wholesaler – said ‘very shortly America will be the largest wine consuming nation in the world. In 1960, America consumed 60m cases of wine. Today, it is five times as much, and imports alone approach 90m cases.’

The Council study took statistics from various sources indicating that US per capita consumption reached 14.5 litres per person in 2007 – a threefold increase since 1970.

Other countries show higher per capita consumption – the French drink 68l per person, for example. But the US may reach the no 1 position in overall consumption as soon as this year.

The Economist magazine’s ‘World in 2008’ edition published estimates indicating that in 2008, Americans will drink some 27.7m hectolitres of wine – while France will drink just under 27m.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos