Germany will overtake Italy to become the world's third largest wine consuming nation within four years, according to a report that also predicts the US will cement its position as the world’s largest wine market and wine consumption in the UK is set to rebound.

A view of Germany’s Mosel wine region

Germans may be better known for frequenting beer halls than for sipping fine wine, but the country that gave the world Oktoberfest is set to consume the equivalent of 3.3bn bottles of wine in 2018.

That would see it overtake Italy, which is only set to uncork 3.28bn bottles, according to figures compiled by market research group The IWSR and released by Vinexpo this week.

But, the tale has more to do with Italians’ weakening love affair with their country’s vineyards than with a sudden rush on wine sales in Germany.

Italy’s wine consumption will sink by 5% over the next four years, while Germany’s will increase by 1%, driven by the sparkling sector.

Italy and France are set to remain neck-and-neck as the world’s biggest wine consuming nations per head, on around 45 litres per person annually. On a per head basis, Germany is back on around 36 litres.

Elsewhere, the Vinexpo report also predicted that the US would strengthen is lead over France as the biggest wine consuming nation overall. US consumption is set to rise by 11% up to the end of 2018, to 4.5bn bottles.

In the UK, wine consumption is set to increase by 5.5% in the next four years, after being in decline since 2009, according to The IWSR and Vinexpo.

This forecast is partly based on the assumption that duty tax will not rise so steeply in the next few years, following the government’s decision to scrap automatic increases in its annual Budget.

If the forecast proves correct, the UK would consume around 1.7bn bottles in 2018, versus 1.6bn last year. Sparkling and rose wines will drive this growth, and white wines are set to become more popular than red over the same time period.

The pick-up in sales should begin this year. ‘We can say confidently that 2015 will show that the UK wine recession is over,’ said Guillaume Deglise, chief executive of Vinexpo, the wine trade fair that will take place in Bordeaux in June.

Written by Chris Mercer