Millennials in the US don't want as much wine as their parents and the Italians are losing touch with their vinous heritage, but Prosecco is a 'weekday luxury' that knows no bounds abroad and China is back in the game, according to a Vinexpo-sponsored report on world wine consumption trends.


World wine consumption – US millennials

It is the second time inside one month that concerns have been raised within the wine trade about the US, the world’s largest wine consuming nation.

So-called millennials, a broad spectrum of people born from the 1980s to the early 2000s, are just as interested in craft beer and small batch Bourbon as the latest wine, according to a report by drinks market research group The IWSR in co-ordination with the Vinexpo wine trade fair.

‘The US market has not developed as well as we thought it would [two years ago], and that’s mainly down to the millennials,’ said Vinexpo’s chief executive, Guillaume Deglise, at a press conference in London this week.

A separate market report recently predicted that the US would see its first fall in wine consumption for two decades in 2016.

‘Less but better’

However, this headline figure hides a projected rise in sales of wine above $10 per bottle in the US. The ‘less but better’ consumption mantra is something that will be repeatedly used in trade circles in the next few years.

Plus, according to Vinexpo/IWSR, US wine consumption is still forecast to increase by 2% between 2015 and 2019 – ahead of the global growth rate of 1.4% – to reach an estimated 346.5m nine-litre cases, or 4.2bn bottles.

That would easily maintain the US as the world’s biggest wine market. Its closest challengers, France, Italy and Germany, are all projected for decline over the next four years.

Italy in decline

Among these, Italy is suffering the most. Wine consumption in Italy fell by nearly 8% between 2010 and 2014 inclusive, and is set to drop by another 7% up to 2019, to just below 3.1bn bottles.

It means that Germany, traditionally more known for its bierkeller than its wine bars, is set to overtake Italy for wine consumption – although mainly because it will decline more slowly than its southerly neighbour.

‘It’s important to remember that France and Italy are still consuming around 45 litres per capita per year,’ said Deglise. ‘In the UK it’s about 24 litres, in the US it is 12, in Japan it is four and in China it is 1.4 litres.’

Prosecco now a ‘weekday luxury’

Italian winemakers may have an increasingly tough crowd at home, but in Prosecco Italy has a world-beating brand.

Global sparkling wine consumption is set to rise by 7.4% up to 2019, hitting 2.7bn bottles, and most of that is down to Prosecco, says the Vinexpo study. Still wine will rise by 0.8% to 28.9bn bottles.

‘People are really asking for Prosecco in bars,’ said Deglise. ‘It is seen as less serious, but it is not seen as a cheap alternative to Champagne. It has become a weekday luxury.’

China returns to the fore

With Vinexpo Asia-Pacific taking place in Hong Kong from 24 to 26 May 2016, and Vinexpo Tokyo scheduled for 15 and 16 November, Deglise said it was pleasing to see Asia coming back as a wine force.

Predominantly, this is being led by a recovery in China, where wine imports have started growing again in the past year.

Bottled wine imports to mainland China rose by 37% in value in 2015, to$1.9bn, according to Chinese customs data reported by

Vinexpo and the IWSR project a 16% overall increase in wine imports to China and Hong Kong between 2015 and 2019, to $7.4bn. the report also projects a 17% rise in wine imports in Japan, to $4.1bn.

  • M P Galvan

    Good article, but my theory is that the decline in millennial wine consumption is equally caused by consumption of quality craft beer and sprits as well as the consolidation in the wine industry and the new conglomerate wine companies raising prices and lowering quality on the less expensive wines.
    Ernest and Julio had it right years ago, provide high quality in moderate priced wine and you will grow the market. Today’s mantra seems to be raise prices on anything good and put lower quality plonk in anything that is priced under $10. Millennials are not dumb and if they can get a good beverage for less than $10 why would they pay more for a lesser drink.
    Are we shooting ourselves in the foot?